Post-Acute Care Use and Hospital Readmission after Sepsis

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2015 Jun;12(6):904-13. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201411-504OC.


Rationale: The epidemiology of post-acute care use and hospital readmission after sepsis remains largely unknown.

Objectives: To examine the rate of post-acute care use and hospital readmission after sepsis and to examine risk factors and outcomes for hospital readmissions after sepsis.

Methods: In an observational cohort study conducted in an academic health care system (2010-2012), we compared post-acute care use at discharge and hospital readmission after 3,620 sepsis hospitalizations with 108,958 nonsepsis hospitalizations. We used three validated, claims-based approaches to identify sepsis and severe sepsis.

Measurements and main results: Post-acute care use at discharge was more likely after sepsis, driven by skilled care facility placement (35.4% after sepsis vs. 15.8%; P < 0.001), with the highest rate observed after severe sepsis. Readmission rates at 7, 30, and 90 days were higher postsepsis (P < 0.001). Compared with nonsepsis hospitalizations (15.6% readmitted within 30 d), the increased readmission risk was present regardless of sepsis severity (27.3% after sepsis and 26.0-26.2% after severe sepsis). After controlling for presepsis characteristics, the readmission risk was found to be 1.51 times greater (95% CI, 1.38-1.66) than nonsepsis hospitalizations. Readmissions after sepsis were more likely to result in death or transition to hospice care (6.1% vs. 13.3% after sepsis; P < 0.001). Independent risk factors associated with 30-day readmissions after sepsis hospitalizations included age, malignancy diagnosis, hospitalizations in the year prior to the index hospitalization, nonelective index admission type, one or more procedures during the index hospitalization, and low hemoglobin and high red cell distribution width at discharge.

Conclusions: Post-acute care use and hospital readmissions were common after sepsis. The increased readmission risk after sepsis was observed regardless of sepsis severity and was associated with adverse readmission outcomes.

Keywords: critical care; emergency department use; hospital readmission; infection; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Erythrocyte Indices
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Review / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis* / epidemiology
  • Sepsis* / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Hemoglobins