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ER Visits After Surgery Fairly Common in Medicare Patients

Rates of ER visits within 30 days of discharge vary widely across hospitals

THURSDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- About 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged following six common inpatient surgeries visit the emergency department within 30 days, according to research published in the September issue of Health Affairs.

Keith E. Kocher, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data for Medicare patients undergoing six common inpatient surgeries to assess the rate of emergency department visits within 30 days of discharge.

The researchers found that 17.3 percent of patients had at least one emergency department visit within the post-discharge period, and 4.4 percent of patients had multiple visits. More than half (56.5 percent) of the readmissions among these patients occurred through the emergency department. Rates of post-discharge visits varied widely, up to four-fold, across hospitals.

"Our findings demonstrating the frequency and variability across hospitals and conditions with which emergency department visits occur in the immediate post-discharge period suggest an opportunity to further improve care during this vulnerable time," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the health care management or hospital quality industries.

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