Study: Reducing readmissions does not harm patients

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Efforts to reduce readmissions for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia were not associated with increased mortality rates after the ACA's passage, according to a study published in JAMA.

After the ACA established financial penalties for hospitals with high readmission rates for common medical conditions, industry members wondered whether efforts to keep patients out of the hospital would result in increased mortality.

To assess the possible correlation between efforts to reduce readmissions and patient mortality, researchers analyzed records of more than 5 million Medicare fee-for-service hospitalizations for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia from 2008 to 2014. Researchers did not identify a negative correlation between 30-day patient mortality and 30-day readmission, but rather a small positive correlation, suggesting efforts to decrease readmission may also decrease patient mortality.

"Our study validates that the national focus on readmissions improved outcomes without causing unintended harm," said Harlan Krumholz, MD, a cardiologist and healthcare researcher with Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "Thousands and thousands of readmissions are being avoided every year without any evidence of people being harmed — that is a victory of improving the quality of care."

More articles on patient flow: 
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DeGraff Memorial Hospital to eliminate 56 beds in surgical unit

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