Unplanned readmissions of patients with congestive heart failure: do they reflect in-hospital quality of care or patient characteristics?

Am J Med. 2000 Oct 1;109(5):386-90. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00489-7.


Purpose: To determine if early unplanned readmissions of patients hospitalized for heart failure are associated with suboptimal in-hospital care or with the clinical and demographic characteristics of the patient.

Subject and methods: We performed a case-control study among patients discharged with a principal diagnosis of heart failure. Cases included all patients unexpectedly readmitted within 31 days of discharge; controls were randomly selected from among those not readmitted. Quality of care was measured using explicit criteria reflecting the admission work-up, evaluation and treatment, and readiness for discharge.

Results: Ninety-one cases and 351 controls were included. There was no significant association between early unplanned readmissions and the scores for quality of the admission work-up or evaluation and treatment during the stay. There was a significant association between readiness for discharge and subsequent early readmission: for each 10% decrease in the proportion of fulfilled criteria, the odds of readmission increased by 14% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1. 01 to 1.28, P = 0.04) for all-cause readmissions and by 19% (95% CI: 1.04 to 1.36, P = 0.01) for heart-failure-related readmissions. In a multiple logistic regression model, previous diagnosis of heart failure (odds ratio [OR] = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.7 to 4.8, P <0.001), age (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3 to 8.5, P = 0.01 for patients aged 65 to 79 years and OR = 4.1, 95% CI: 1.6 to 11, P = 0.004 for patients aged 80 years and older), and history of cardiac revascularization (OR = 2.1, 95% CI: 1.2 to 3.9, P = 0.01) showed a stronger association with early unplanned all-cause readmissions than the readiness-for-discharge score (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.31, P = 0.02). Similar findings were seen for heart failure-related readmissions.

Conclusions: Among patients with heart failure, early unplanned readmissions were not associated with suboptimal admission work-up or evaluation and treatment but were weakly associated with readiness for discharge. However, they were strongly associated with the patients' clinical and demographic characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / standards*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Switzerland