Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Medical and surgical readmissions in the Veterans Health Administration: what proportion are related to the index hospitalization?

Rosen AK, Chen Q, Shin MH, O'Brien W, Shwartz M, Mull HJ, Cevasco M, Borzecki AM. Medical and surgical readmissions in the Veterans Health Administration: what proportion are related to the index hospitalization? Medical care. 2014 Mar 1; 52(3):243-9.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Readmissions are an attractive quality measure because they offer a broad view of quality beyond the index hospitalization. However, the extent to which medical or surgical readmissions reflect quality of care is largely unknown, because of the complexity of factors related to readmission. Identifying those readmissions that are clinically related to the index hospitalization is an important first step in closing this knowledge gap. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to examine unplanned readmissions in the Veterans Health Administration, identify clinically related versus unrelated unplanned readmissions, and compare the leading reasons for unplanned readmission between medical and surgical discharges. METHODS: We classified 2,069,804 Veterans Health Administration hospital discharges (Fiscal Years 2003-2007) into medical/surgical index discharges with/without readmissions per their diagnosis-related groups. Our outcome variable was "all-cause" 30-day unplanned readmission. We compared medical and surgical unplanned readmissions (n = 217,767) on demographics, clinical characteristics, and readmission reasons using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Among all unplanned readmissions, 41.5% were identified as clinically related. Not surprisingly, heart failure (10.2%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (6.5%) were the top 2 reasons for clinically related readmissions among medical discharges; postoperative complications (ie, complications of surgical procedures and medical care or complications of devices) accounted for 70.5% of clinically related readmissions among surgical discharges. CONCLUSIONS: Although almost 42% of unplanned readmissions were identified as clinically related, the majority of unplanned readmissions were unrelated to the index hospitalization. Quality improvement interventions targeted at processes of care associated with the index hospitalization are likely to be most effective in reducing clinically related readmissions. It is less clear how to reduce nonclinically related readmissions; these may involve broader factors than inpatient care.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.