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Pediatric Readmission Rates Aren’t Indicator of Hospital Performance

30-day readmission rates hover around 5%, study finds (August 26)

Readmission rates of adult patients to the same hospital within 30 days are an area of national focus and a potential indicator of clinical failure and unnecessary expenditures.

However, a new study from the University of California–San Francisco (UCSF) shows that hospital readmission rates for children are not necessarily meaningful measures of the quality of their care.

In the first multistate study of children’s and non-children’s hospitals that assessed pediatric readmission and revisit rates — being admitted into the hospital again or visiting the emergency room within 30 days of discharge — for common pediatric conditions, UCSF researchers found that diagnosis-specific readmission and revisit rates are limited in their usefulness as a quality indicator for pediatric hospital care.

The researchers noted that, when comparing hospitals’ performance based on revisits, few hospitals that care for children can be identified as being better or worse than average, even for common pediatric diagnoses.

“As a national way of assessing and tracking hospital quality, pediatric readmissions and revisits, at least for specific diagnoses, are not useful to families trying to find a good hospital, nor to the hospitals trying to improve their pediatric care,” said lead author Naomi Bardach, MD. “Measuring and reporting them publicly would waste limited hospital and health care resources.”

The researchers looked at 958 hospitals admitting children, and focused on seven common inpatient pediatric conditions: asthma, dehydration, pneumonia, appendicitis, skin infections, mood disorders, and epilepsy.

All of the hospitals in the study had 30-day readmission rates of less than 5% in all areas except for epilepsy (6.1%), dehydration (6.0%), and mood disorders (7.6%).

“With average 30-day readmission rates hovering around 5 percent, there is little space for a hospital to be identified as having better performance,” Bardach said.

The new findings will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Source: Medical Xpress; August 26, 2013.

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