Expensive Hospital Readmission Linked to Healthcare-Associated Infections

Research published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology finds a strong link between healthcare-associated infections and patient readmission after an initial hospital stay.

The researchers tracked 136,513 patients admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center from 2001 to 2008. The study reviewed the number of patients readmitted within one year after discharge, as well as the number of patients with positive cultures for one of three major infections — MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci or C. difficile — more than 48 hours after admission.


The researchers identified 4,737 patients with positive clinical cultures for MRSA, VRE or C. difficile after more than 48 hours following hospital admission. These patients were 40 percent more likely to readmitted to the hospital within a year and 60 percent more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than patients with negative or no clinical cultures. This trend held true even after controlling for variables, including age, sex, length of hospital stay and severity of illness.

These findings suggest that reducing infections could help reduce readmissions, considered to be a major driver of unnecessary healthcare spending and increased patient morbidity and mortality. The authors acknowledged the study had several limitations, but those limitations led to a "more conservative" association between infections and readmissions.

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