Unexplained Variation for Hospitals’ Use of Inpatient Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Facilities After an Acute Ischemic Stroke

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Rehabilitation is recommended after a stroke to enhance recovery and improve outcomes, but hospital’s use of inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) or skilled nursing facility (SNF) and the factors associated with referral are unknown.

Methods—

We analyzed clinical registry and claims data for 31 775 Medicare beneficiaries presenting with acute ischemic stroke from 918 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke hospitals who were discharged to either IRF or SNF between 2006 and 2008. Using a multilevel logistic regression model, we evaluated patient and hospital characteristics, as well as geographic availability, in relation to discharge to either IRF or SNF. After accounting for observed factors, the median odds ratio was reported to quantify hospital-level variation in the use of IRF versus SNF.

Results—

Of 31 775 patients, 17 662 (55.6%) were discharged to IRF and 14 113 (44.4%) were discharged to SNF. Compared with SNF patients, IRF patients were younger, more were men, had less health-service use 6 months prestroke, and had fewer comorbid conditions and in-hospital complications. Use of IRF or SNF varied significantly across hospitals (median IRF use, 55.8%; interquartile range, 34.8%–75.0%; unadjusted median odds ratio, 2.59; 95% confidence interval, 2.44–2.77). Hospital-level variation in discharge rates to IRF or SNF persisted after adjustment for patient, clinical, and geographic variables (adjusted median odds ratio, 2.87; 95% confidence interval, 2.68–3.11).

Conclusions—

There is marked unexplained variation among hospitals in their use of IRF versus SNF poststroke even after accounting for clinical characteristics and geographic availability.

Clinical Trial Registration—

URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02284165.

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