Emergency readmission criterion: a technique for determining the emergency readmission time window

IEEE Trans Inf Technol Biomed. 2008 Sep;12(5):644-9. doi: 10.1109/TITB.2007.911311.


A frequently chosen time window in defining readmission is 28 days after discharge. Yet in the literature, shorter and longer periods such as 14 days or 90-180 days have also been suggested. In this paper, we develop a modeling approach that systematically tackles the issue surrounding the appropriate choice of a time window as a definition of readmission. The approach is based on the intuitive idea that patients who are discharged from hospital can be broadly divided in to two groups-a group that is at high risk of readmission and a group that is at low risk. Using the national data (England), we demonstrate the usefulness of the approach in the case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, and congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, which are known to be the leading causes of early readmission. Our findings suggest that there are marked differences in the optimal width of the time window for COPD, stroke, and CHF patients. Furthermore, time windows and the probabilities of being in the high-risk group for COPD, stroke, and CHF patients for each of the 29 acute and specialist trusts in the London area indicate wide variability between hospitals. The novelty of this modeling approach lies in its ability to define an appropriate time window based on evidence objectively derived from operational data. Therefore, it can separately provide a unique approach in examining variability between hospitals, and potentially contribute to a better definition of readmission as a performance indicator.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*