Background: Hospitals are implementing discharge support programs to reduce readmissions, and these programs have had mixed success.
Objective: To examine whether a peridischarge, nurse-led intervention decreased emergency department (ED) visits or readmissions among ethnically and linguistically diverse older patients admitted to a safety-net hospital.
Design: Randomized, controlled trial using computer-generated randomization with 1:1 allocation, stratified by language. (Clinical Trials.gov: NCT01221532).
Setting: Publicly funded urban hospital in Northern California.
Patients: Hospitalized adults aged 55 years or older with anticipated discharge to the community who spoke English, Spanish, or Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese).
Intervention: Usual care versus in-hospital, one-on-one, self-management education given by a dedicated language-concordant registered nurse combined with a telephone follow-up after discharge from a nurse practitioner.
Measurements: Staff blinded to the study groups determined ED visits or readmissions to any facility at 30, 90, and 180 days after initial hospital discharge using administrative data from several hospitals.
Results: There were 700 low-income, ethnically and linguistically diverse patients with a mean age of 66.2 years (SD, 9.0). The primary outcome of ED visits or readmissions did not differ between the intervention and usual care groups (hazard ratio, 1.26 [95% CI, 0.89 to 1.78] at 30 days, 1.21 [CI, 0.91 to 1.62] at 90 days, and 1.11 [CI, 0.86 to 1.43] at 180 days).
Limitations: This study was done at a single acute-care hospital. There were fewer outcomes than expected, which may have caused the study to be underpowered.
Conclusion: A nurse-led, in-hospital discharge support intervention did not show a reduction in readmissions or ED visits among diverse, low-income older adults at a safety-net hospital. Although wide CIs preclude firm conclusions, the intervention may have increased ED visits. Alternative readmission prevention strategies should be tested in this population.
Primary funding source: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.