Hospital Characteristics Associated With Postdischarge Hospital Readmission, Observation, and Emergency Department Utilization

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Whether types of hospitals with high readmission rates also have high overall postdischarge acute care utilization (including emergency department and observation care) is unknown.


Cross-sectional analysis.


Nonfederal United States acute care hospitals.


Using methodology established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we calculated each hospital’s “excess days in acute care” for fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries aged over 65 years discharged after hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure (HF), or pneumonia, representing the mean difference between predicted and expected total days of acute care utilization in the 30 days following hospital discharge, per 100 discharges. We assessed the multivariable association of 8 hospital characteristics with excess days in acute care and the proportion of hospitals with each characteristic that were statistical outliers (95% credible interval estimate does not include 0).


We included 2184 hospitals for acute myocardial infarction [228 (10.4%) better than expected, 549 (25.1%) worse than expected], 3720 hospitals for HF [484 (13.0%) better and 840 (22.6%) worse], and 4195 hospitals for pneumonia [673 (16.0%) better, 1005 (24.0%) worse]. Results for all conditions were similar. Worse than expected outliers for pneumonia included: 18.8% of safety net hospitals versus 26.1% of nonsafety net hospitals; 16.7% of public hospitals versus 33.1% of for-profit hospitals; 19.5% of nonteaching hospitals versus 52.2% of major teaching hospitals; 7.9% of rural hospitals versus 42.1% of large urban hospitals; 5.9% of hospitals with 24–<50 beds versus 58% of hospitals with >500 beds; and 29.0% of hospitals with nurse-to-bed ratios >1.0–1.5 versus 21.7% of hospitals with ratios >2.0.


Including emergency department and observation stays in measures of postdischarge utilization produces similar results as measuring only readmissions in that major teaching, urban and for-profit hospitals still perform disproportionately poorly versus nonteaching or public hospitals. However, it enables identification of more outliers and a more granular assessment of the association of hospital factors and outcomes.

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