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Outcomes Up With Same Hospital Readmissions in Heart Failure

Continuity of care may be more important than speedy treatment, researchers say

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THURSDAY, May 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Heart failure patients who are readmitted to the same hospital after their initial treatment are more likely to survive compared to those treated at a different hospital, according to research published online May 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Finlay McAlister, M.D., a professor of general internal medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues examined readmission data on heart failure patients discharged from Canadian hospitals between 2004 and 2013. Of the 217,039 patients, 18.1 percent were readmitted within 30 days and 36.9 percent were readmitted for heart failure. Of all the patients who were sent back to the hospital, 83.2 percent were readmitted to the hospital where they were first treated and 16.8 percent were treated at a different hospital.

The patients treated at a new hospital were more likely to be male, younger, living in rural areas, and arrive by ambulance, the researchers noted. After adjusting for other variables, including patients' age and sex, the investigators found the heart failure patients who were treated at the same hospital were discharged about one day sooner and were 11 percent less likely to die during their hospital stay.

"Patients' hospital records may not be completed for weeks and they don't report all of the things that happened during the initial hospitalization. For example, it is not uncommon for heart failure patients to not tolerate, or have adverse responses, to higher doses of some guideline-recommended medications," McAlister said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "That information rarely appears on discharge summaries, so patients are at risk of the same thing happening if they are admitted to a different hospital."

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