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Patients released from one hospital and readmitted to another within 30 days are more likely to die within the next month than those readmitted to the same hospital, according to a study from Canada.
Researchers analyzed data from about 200,000 patients who were readmitted to 21 hospitals in the Toronto area. About 20% were readmitted to a different hospital than the one they recently left. The study was published May 1 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The death rates after 30 days were 19% for those readmitted to the same hospital and 22% for those readmitted to a different hospital. Patients readmitted to a different hospital tended to be older and to have more health problems, but the increased risk of death remained after the researchers accounted for these factors, according to the study led by John Staples, MD, a physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.
While the study found an association between higher death rates for patients and readmission to a different hospital within a month after discharge, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
"One interpretation of these findings is that alternative-hospital readmission can compromise patient safety," Staples said in announcing the results. "Yet it’s also possible that these findings reflect the greater burden of illness among alternative-hospital patients, particularly if that burden of illness wasn’t fully captured in the databases we used."