Risk factors for medication-related short-term readmissions in adults - a scoping review

BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Sep 28;23(1):1037. doi: 10.1186/s12913-023-10028-2.


Background: Hospital readmissions due to medication-related problems occur frequently, burdening patients and caregivers emotionally and straining health care systems economically. In times of limited health care resources, interventions to mitigate the risk of medication-related readmissions should be prioritized to patients most likely to benefit. Focusing on general internal medicine patients, this scoping review aims to identify risk factors associated with drug-related 30-day hospital readmissions.

Methods: We began by searching the Medline, Embase, and CINAHL databases from their inception dates to May 17, 2022 for studies reporting risk factors for 30-day drug-related readmissions. We included all peer-reviewed studies, while excluding literature reviews, conference abstracts, proceeding papers, editorials, and expert opinions. We also conducted backward citation searches of the included articles. Within the final sample, we analyzed the types and frequencies of risk factors mentioned.

Results: After deduplication of the initial search results, 1159 titles and abstracts were screened for full-text adjudication. We read 101 full articles, of which we included 37. Thirteen more were collected via backward citation searches, resulting in a final sample of 50 articles. We identified five risk factor categories: (1) patient characteristics, (2) medication groups, (3) medication therapy problems, (4) adverse drug reactions, and (5) readmission diagnoses. The most commonly mentioned risk factors were polypharmacy, prescribing problems-especially underprescribing and suboptimal drug selection-and adherence issues. Medication groups associated with the highest risk of 30-day readmissions (mostly following adverse drug reactions) were antithrombotic agents, insulin, opioid analgesics, and diuretics. Preventable medication-related readmissions most often reflected prescribing problems and/or adherence issues.

Conclusions: This study's findings will help care teams prioritize patients for interventions to reduce medication-related hospital readmissions, which should increase patient safety. Further research is needed to analyze surrogate social parameters for the most common drug-related factors and their predictive value regarding medication-related readmissions.

Keywords: Adverse drug reactions; Drug-related problems; Drug-related readmissions; General internal medicine; Hospital readmission; Medication safety; Prediction; Risk factors; Scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Medication Reconciliation
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Polypharmacy
  • Risk Factors