Objectives: To examine the frequency and reasons for rehospitalization in persons with acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) during follow-up years and to examine the association between rehospitalization and demographics, neurologic category, payer sources, length of stay (LOS), discharge motor FIM instrument score, and discharge residence.
Design: Survey design with analysis of cross-sectional data.
Setting: Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems (MSCIS) centers.
Participants: Data for 8668 persons with SCI from 16 MSCIS centers entered in the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center database between 1995 and 2002.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: MSCIS Forms I and II were used to identify the annual incidence, medical complications, and etiologies of rehospitalizations reported at 1-, 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-year follow-ups.
Results: The leading cause of rehospitalization was diseases of the genitourinary system, including urinary tract infections (UTIs). Diseases of the respiratory system tended to be more likely in patients with tetraplegia (C1-8 American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] grades A, B, C); whereas patients with paraplegia (T1-S5 ASIA grades A, B, C) were more likely to be rehospitalized for pressure ulcers. The rate of rehospitalization was significantly higher at year 1, 5, and 20 for those who were discharged to a skilled nursing facility after acute rehabilitation. Lower motor score using the FIM was predictive of rehospitalization (P=.000). The average LOS per rehospitalization at the year-5 follow-up was approximately 12 days, which is lower than in past MSCIS reports.
Conclusions: Despite improvements in SCI medical management, rehospitalization rates remain high, with an increased incidence in conditions associated with the genitourinary system (including UTIs), respiratory complications (including pneumonia), and diseases of the skin (including pressure ulcers). Acutely injured patients need close follow-up to reduce morbidity and rehospitalizations.