This article is an investigation into the relationship between length of stay and readmission within 30 days of discharge from an acute care hospitalization. We estimated probability models for heart attack and for heart failure patients using generalized estimating techniques applied to hospital administrative data from California for calendar year 2008. The key independent variable was length of stay in the initial hospitalization. We found negative associations between length of stay and readmission probability, particularly in the case of heart attack. Simulated values of predicted readmissions based on a 1-day increase in length of stay yielded estimated reductions in readmission rates in the 7% to 18% range for heart attack patients and the 1% to 8% range for heart failure patients. Increasing length of stay for some patients may be a means of improving quality of care by reducing readmission during the 30-day postdischarge period.
Keywords: hospitals; length of stay; readmissions.