Objective: To determine the feasibility and potential impact of a non-pharmacologic multidisciplinary intervention for reducing hospital readmissions in elderly patients with congestive heart failure.
Design: Prospective, randomized clinical trial, with 2:1 assignment to the study intervention or usual care.
Setting: 550-bed secondary and tertiary care university teaching hospital.
Patients and participants: 98 patients > or = 70 years of age (mean 79 +/- 6 years) admitted with documented congestive heart failure.
Interventions: Comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment strategy consisting of intensive teaching by a geriatric cardiac nurse, a detailed review of medications by a geriatric cardiologist with specific recommendations designed to improve medication compliance and reduce side effects, early consultation with social services to facilitate discharge planning, dietary teaching by a hospital dietician, and close follow-up after discharge by home care and the study team.
Measurements and main results: All patients were followed for 90 days after initial hospital discharge. The primary study endpoints were rehospitalization within the 90-day interval and the cumulative number of days hospitalized during follow-up. The 90-day readmission rate was 33.3% (21.7%-44.9%) for the patients receiving the study intervention (n = 63) compared with 45.7% (29.2%-62.2%) for the control patients (n = 35). The mean number of days hospitalized was 4.3 +/- 1.1 (2.1-6.5) for the treated patients vs 5.7 +/- 2.0 (1.8-9.6) for the usual-care patients. In a prospectively defined subgroup of patients at intermediate risk for readmission (n = 61), readmissions were reduced by 42.2% (from 47.6% to 27.5%; p = 0.10), and the average number of hospital days during follow-up decreased from 6.7 +/- 3.2 days to 3.2 +/- 1.2 days (p = NS).
Conclusions: These pilot data suggest that a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to reducing repetitive hospitalizations in elderly patients with congestive heart failure may lead to a reduction in readmissions and hospital days, particularly in patients at moderate risk for early rehospitalization. Further evaluation of this treatment strategy, including an assessment of the cost-effectiveness, is warranted.