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Comparison of Risk-Standardized Readmission Rates of Surgical Patients at Safety-Net and Non-Safety-Net Hospitals Using Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and American Hospital Association Data.

Talutis SD, Chen Q, Wang N, Rosen AK. Comparison of Risk-Standardized Readmission Rates of Surgical Patients at Safety-Net and Non-Safety-Net Hospitals Using Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and American Hospital Association Data. JAMA surgery. 2019 May 1; 154(5):391-400.

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Importance: Medical patients discharged from safety-net hospitals (SNHs) experience higher readmission rates compared with those discharged from non-SNHs. However, little is known about whether this association persists for surgical patients. Objectives: To examine differences in readmission rates between SNHs and non-SNHs among surgical patients after discharge and determine whether hospital characteristics might account for some of the variation. Design, Setting, and Participants: This observational retrospective study linked the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2014, for 4 states (New York, Florida, Iowa, and Washington) with data from the 2014 American Hospital Association annual survey. After identifying surgical discharges, SNHs were defined as those with the top quartile of inpatient stays paid by Medicaid or self-paid. Hospital-level risk-standardized readmission rates (RSRRs) for surgical discharges were calculated. The association between hospital RSRRs and hospital characteristics was evaluated with bivariate analyses. An estimated multivariable hierarchical linear regression model was used to examine variation in hospital RSRRs, adjusting for hospital characteristics, state, year, and SNH status. Data were analyzed from June 1, 2017, through March 1, 2018. Exposures: Surgical care at an SNH. Main Outcomes and Measures: Readmission after an index surgical admission. Results: A total of 1?252?505 patients across all 4 years and states were included in the analysis (51.7% women; mean [SD] age, 52.7 [18.1] years). Bivariate analyses found that SNHs had higher mean (SD) surgical RSRRs compared with non-SNHs; significant differences were found for New York (9.6 [0.1] vs 10.9 [0.1]; P? < .001) and Florida (11.6 [0.1] vs 12.1 [0.1]; P? = .001). The SNHs also had higher RSRRs in these 2 states when stratified by hospital funding (nonfederal government SNHs in New York, 11.9 [0.2]; for-profit, private SNHs in Florida, 13.1 [0.2]; P? < .001 for both); however, bed size was a significant factor for higher mean (SD) RSRRs only for New York (200 to 399 beds, 12.0 [0.4]; P? = .006). Similar results were found for multivariable linear regression models; RSRRs were 1.02% higher for SNHs compared with non-SNHs (95% CI, 0.75%-1.29%; P? < .001). Increased RSRRs were observed for hospitals in New York and Florida, teaching hospitals, and investor-owned hospitals. Factors associated with reduced RSRRs included presence of an ambulatory surgery center, cardiac catheterization capabilities, and high surgical volume. Conclusions and Relevance: According to results of this study, surgical patients treated at SNHs experienced slightly higher RSRRs compared with those treated at non-SNHs. This association persisted after adjusting for year, state, and hospital factors, including teaching status, hospital bed size, and hospital volume.

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