Hospital Readmissions Calculations May Be Misleading

The standard methodology for calculating hospital readmission rates may be misleading, according to a study led by neurosurgeon Beejal Amin, MD, of Loyola University Health System.


For the study, researchers examined the records of 5,780 spine surgery patients treated at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center from October 2007 to June 2011. Results of that analysis showed that, under the standard readmission formula, 281 patients were readmitted within 30 days of discharge.

However, 69 of these readmissions (25 percent) should not have been counted against the hospital: 39 cases were planned readmissions for staged procedures, 16 cases were unrelated to spine surgery and 14 cases were cancelled or rescheduled due to unpreventable reasons. The results suggest the current method used to calculate readmissions overstated spine surgery-related readmissions by 25 percent.

"Readmissions should be determined not only by hospital readmission but also require the presence of a diagnosis code that indicates a spine-related complication. This will help prevent false positive readmission classification," the study authors wrote.

More Articles on Patient Safety:

AHA Revises Readmissions Penalty Calculator

Joint Commission Calls for Critical Access Hospital Volunteers for Pilot Project

7 Steps to Better Quality Control at Orthopedics & Spine Surgery Centers

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