Early unplanned trauma readmissions in a safety net hospital are resource intensive but not due to resource limitations

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In an era of decreasing reimbursements, the incentive to decrease readmissions has never been greater. It has been suggested that trauma readmission is an indicator of poor hospital care or fragmented discharge. Even though trauma readmissions are relatively low, readmissions add significant cost, tie up already limited resources and lead to worse outcomes, including mortality. The literature on trauma readmissions is sparse, and the reasons and risk factors for readmission are inconsistent across studies. If readmissions are to serve as useful indicators of quality of care, we must elucidate factors that may predict readmissions.


We performed a retrospective review of all admissions to our urban Level I trauma center from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2015. All patients aged 16 years or older who were discharged alive were included. We identified all unplanned readmissions that occurred within 30 days of discharge and performed an extensive chart review to determine the reasons for readmission. We performed univariate and multivariable analyses.


We identified 6,026 index trauma admissions, with 158 (2.6%) unplanned readmissions within 30 days of discharge. The most common reasons for readmission were disease/symptom progression (30.2%), wound complications (28.9%), and pain control (11.8%). On multivariate analysis, only Injury Severity Score (odds ratio [OR], 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00–1.05; p=0.016), penetrating injuries (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.12–3.24; p=0.018), and smoking (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.05–2.86; p=0.031) were found to be significant. Hospital length of stay, insurance status, and race were not significant.


In a resource-limited environment, we expected a lack of access to care would lead to increased trauma readmissions; however, we were still able to achieve similar readmission rates, irrespective of insurance status and race. Our trauma readmission rate is low and consistent with previously published studies. Our results at our Level I trauma center support previously published studies that found Injury Severity Score and penetrating injury to be risk factors for readmission; however, more ubiquitous risk factors, such as hospital length of stay and discharge destination, were not significant. With no consensus on the risk factors for unplanned early trauma readmission, individual trauma centers should evaluate their specific risk factors for readmission to improve patient outcomes and decrease hospital costs.


Care management, level IV; Epidemiologic, level IV.

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