Hospital readmission for adult acute sickle cell painful episodes: frequency, etiology, and prognostic significance

Am J Hematol. 2005 May;79(1):17-25. doi: 10.1002/ajh.20336.


The acute sickle cell painful episode is the most common cause of hospitalization of patients with sickle cell anemia. Its detailed clinical features and peri-discharge features are not well known. In order to determine the actual pattern of hospital admissions of patients with SS and the causes of frequent hospital readmissions and their prognostic significance, we conducted a prospective longitudinal and observation cohort study of all adult patients with sickle cell anemia admitted to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital between January 1998 and December 2002. Major outcome measures included the frequency, etiology, and prognostic significance of readmissions to the hospital within 1 week and 1 month after discharge. Incidence of mortality among patients during the study period was also determined. Analysis of the data showed that about 50% of hospital admissions for acute painful episodes were readmitted within 1 month after discharge, and about 16% of all admissions were within 1 week after discharge. The intensity of pain score decreased significantly during the first 4 days of hospital admission (P < 0.001) and then reached a plateau until discharge. The mean score of pain intensity was >7 throughout the hospital stay. Causes of hospital readmission included premature discharge, withdrawal syndrome, and recurrence of new acute episodes. Readmission within 1 week after discharge was associated with higher mortality than otherwise. This study shows that hospital readmission of adult patients with sickle cell anemia is common. It suggests that improvement is needed in the management of pain during hospitalization and at home after discharge. Patients who are readmitted frequently within 1 week of discharge have poor prognosis and require careful monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prognosis