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Trend Steady in Medicare Heart Failure Readmissions

Overall, 23.8 percent of beneficiaries with heart failure in study were readmitted within 30 days

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- An analysis of Medicare data for 2004 to 2006 found no significant change in the rate of hospital readmission among beneficiaries who have been hospitalized for heart failure and discharged, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Joseph S. Ross, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues extracted data on more than 1.6 million fee-for-service Medicare beneficiary admissions to U.S. hospitals for heart failure who were discharged. The researchers estimated mean annual risk-standardized, all-cause 30-day readmission rates (RSRRs) using models that included age, sex, and comorbidities. Hospital quality was evaluated using mean and standard deviation of the RSRRs.

The researchers found that, among all of the Medicare heart failure patients discharged during the study period, 23.8 percent were readmitted to a hospital (for any reason) within 30 days. The unadjusted hospital-specific 30-day all-cause readmission rates (standard deviation) were virtually the same for each year in the study period: mean 23.0 percent (9.9) for 2004, 23.3 percent (10.2) for 2005, and 22.9 percent (10.4) for 2006. The mean RSRRs (standard deviation) also were equivalent: mean of 23.7 percent (1.3) for 2004, 23.9 percent (1.4) for 2005, and 23.8 percent (1.4) for 2006.

"National mean and RSRR distributions among Medicare beneficiaries discharged after heart failure hospitalization have not changed in recent years, indicating that there was neither improvement in hospital readmission rates nor in hospital variations in rates over this time period," the authors write.

Several study authors reported developing RSRRs for heart failure for the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care. One study author is on a scientific advisory board for UnitedHealthcare.

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