Hospital readmissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are linked to readmissions for other conditions as well as patients’ own experiences while hospitalized, such as communication with nurses, staff responsiveness, pain management and discharge information.
The study reporting the findings is titled “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Readmissions and Other Measures of Hospital Quality,” and was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
About 19.6 percent of COPD patients hospitalized in the United States are readmitted within 30 days, accounting for $17 billion in annual expenses. To improve clinical outcomes and control rising healthcare costs, the Baltimore-based Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has imposed penalties to cut hospital readmissions for select conditions such as COPD, heart failure and pneumonia.
COPD, the nation’s third leading cause of death, affects 12.7 million Americans and costing nearly $50 billion annually. Each year, COPD leads to more than 700,000 hospitalizations. Yet despite growing pressure to reduce COPD readmissions, it remains unclear how COPD readmission rates relate to hospital quality.
To address this question, a team led by Jose Gomez, MD, assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at Yale University, analyzed data from more than 3,700 hospitals. The team compared COPD readmission rates to other risk-adjusted measures of hospital quality, including readmission and mortality rates for other conditions, and patient reports about care experiences.
Researchers found that readmissions for COPD were statistically associated with hospital readmissions for other diseases — possibly due to the overall health status of the patient population affected by COPD. Patient experiences, such as communication with healthcare professionals and discharge information, were also a factor in high readmission rates.
“Focusing on better transitional care may decrease readmissions rates,” Gomez said in a news release,
“There may be common organizational factors that influence multiple disease-specific outcomes,” researchers concluded. “As pay-for-performance programs focus attention on individual disease outcomes, hospitals may benefit from in-depth assessments of organizational factors affecting multiple aspects of hospital quality.”