A multi-center analysis of readmission after cardiac surgery: Experience of The Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group

J Card Surg. 2019 Aug;34(8):655-662. doi: 10.1111/jocs.14086. Epub 2019 Jun 18.


Background: Readmissions after cardiac surgery are common and associated with increased morbidity, mortality and cost of care. Policymakers have targeted coronary artery bypass grafting to achieve value-oriented health care milestones. We explored the causes of readmission following cardiac surgery among a regional consortium of hospitals.

Methods: Using administrative data, we identified patients readmitted to the same institution within 30 days of cardiac surgery. We performed standardized review of readmitted patients' medical records to identify primary and secondary causes of readmission. We evaluated causes of readmission by procedure and tested for univariate associations between characteristics of readmitted patients and nonreadmitted patients in our clinical registry.

Results: Of 2218 cardiac surgery patients, 272 were readmitted to the index hospital within 30 days for a readmission rate of 12.3%. Median time to readmission was 9 days (interquartile range 4-16 days) and only 13% of patients were evaluated in-office before readmission. Readmitted patients were more likely to have had valve surgery (31.3% vs 22.7%) than patients not readmitted. Readmitted patients were also more likely to have preoperative creatinine more than or equal to 2 mg/dL (P = .015) or congestive heart failure (CHF) (P = .034), require multiple blood transfusions or sustained inotropic support (P < .001), and experience postoperative atrial fibrillation (P = .022) or renal insufficiency (P < .001). Infection (26%), pleural or pericardial effusion (19%), arrhythmia (16%), and CHF (11%) were the most common primary etiologies leading to readmission.

Conclusions: Ensuring early follow-up for high-risk patient groups while improving early detection and management of the principal drivers of readmission represent promising targets for decreasing readmission rates.

Keywords: cardiac surgery; coronary artery bypass grafting; outcomes; readmission.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Valves / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Risk
  • Time Factors