Importance: Hospital readmissions are common, costly, and potentially preventable. Little is known about the association between available skilled nursing facility (SNF) performance measures and the risk of hospital readmission.
Objective: To measure the association between SNF performance measures and hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries receiving postacute care at SNFs in the United States.
Design and participants: Using national Medicare data on fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries discharged to a SNF after an acute care hospitalization between September 1, 2009, and August 31, 2010, we examined the association between SNF performance on publicly available metrics (SNF staffing intensity, health deficiencies identified through site inspections, and the percentages of SNF patients with delirium, moderate to severe pain, and new or worsening pressure ulcers) and the risk of readmission or death 30 days after discharge to a SNF. Adjusted analyses controlled for patient case mix, SNF facility factors, and the discharging hospital.
Main outcomes and measures: Readmission to an acute care hospital or death within 30 days of the index hospital discharge.
Results: Of 1,530,824 patients discharged, 357,752 (23.3%; 99% CI, 23.3%-23.5%) were readmitted or died within 30 days; 72,472 died within 30 days (4.7%; 99% CI, 4.7%-4.8%), and 321,709 were readmitted (21.0%; 99% CI, 20.9%-21.1%). The unadjusted risk of readmission or death was lower at SNFs with better staffing ratings. SNFs ranked lowest (19.2% of all SNFs) had a 30-day risk of readmission or death of 25.5% (99% CI, 25.3%-25.8%) vs 19.8% (99% CI, 19.5%-20.1%) among those ranked highest. SNFs with better facility inspection ratings also had a lower risk of readmission or death. SNFs ranked lowest (20.1% of all SNFs) had a risk of 24.9% (99% CI, 24.7%-25.1%) vs 21.5% (99% CI, 21.2%-21.7%) among those ranked highest . Adjustment for patient factors, SNF facility factors, and the discharging hospital attenuated these associations; we observed small differences in the adjusted risk of readmission or death according to SNF facility inspection ratings (lowest vs highest rating: 23.7%; 99% CI: 23.7%, 23.7%; vs 23.0%; 99% CI: 23.0%, 23.1%). Other measures did not predict clinically meaningful differences in the adjusted risk of readmission or death.
Conclusions and relevance: Among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries discharged to a SNF after an acute care hospitalization, available performance measures were not consistently associated with differences in the adjusted risk of readmission or death.