Objective: We compared the readmission rates and the pattern of readmission among patients discharged against medical advice (AMA) to control patients discharged with approval over a one-year follow-up period.
Methods: A retrospective matched-cohort study of 656 patients(328 were discharged AMA) who were followed for one year after their initial hospitalization at an urban university-affiliated teaching hospital in Vancouver, Canada that serves a population with high prevalence of addiction and psychiatric disorders. Multivariate conditional logistic regression was used to examine the independent association of discharge AMA on 14-day related diagnosis hospital readmission. We fit a multivariate conditional negative binomial regression model to examine the readmission frequency ratio between the AMA and non-AMA group.
Principal findings: AMA patients were more likely to be homeless (32.3% vs. 11%) and have co-morbid conditions such as psychiatric illnesses, injection drug use, HIV, hepatitis C and previous gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients discharged AMA were more likely to be readmitted: 25.6% vs. 3.4%, p<0.001 by day 14. The AMA group were more likely to be readmitted within 14 days with a related diagnosis than the non-AMA group (Adjusted Odds Ratio 12.0; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 3.7-38.9). Patients who left AMA were more likely to be readmitted multiple times at one year compared to the non-AMA group (adjusted frequency ratio 1.6; 95% CI: 1.3-2.0). There was also higher all-cause in-hospital mortality during the 12-month follow-up in the AMA group compared to non-AMA group (6.7% vs. 2.4%, p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Patients discharged AMA were more likely to be homeless and have multiple co-morbid conditions. At one year follow-up, the AMA group had higher readmission rates, were predisposed to multiple readmissions and had a higher in-hospital mortality. Interventions to reduce discharges AMA in high-risk groups need to be developed and tested.