Do timely outpatient follow-up visits decrease hospital readmission rates?

Am J Med Qual. 2012 Jan-Feb;27(1):11-5. doi: 10.1177/1062860611409197. Epub 2011 Aug 10.


It is widely believed that timely follow-up decreases hospital readmissions; however, the literature evaluating time to follow-up is limited. The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of patients discharged from a tertiary care academic medical center and evaluated the relationship between outpatient follow-up appointments made and 30-day unplanned readmissions. Of 1044 patients discharged home, 518 (49.6%) patients had scheduled follow-up ≤14 days after discharge, 52 (4.9%) patients were scheduled ≥15 days after discharge, and 474 (45.4%) had no scheduled follow-up. There was no statistical difference in 30-day readmissions between patients with follow-up within 14 days and those with follow-up 15 days or longer from discharge (P = .36) or between patients with follow-up within 14 days and those without scheduled follow-up (P = .75). The timing of postdischarge follow-up did not affect readmissions. Further research is needed to determine such factors and to prospectively study time to outpatient follow-up after discharge and the decrease in readmission rates.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies