Quality of care utilization measures for patients admitted to the hospital with an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) include length of stay (LOS) and 30-day readmission rates. Our aim was to test whether efforts resulting in reduced LOS in patients diagnosed as having AMI would result in a higher risk of readmission within 30 days of hospital discharge and whether specific interventions could be targeted to reduce readmissions.Methods
Using data supplied by the Veterans Affairs Inpatient Evaluation Center, we analyzed both the readmissions within 30 days of an AMI and LOS and determined the timing of readmissions and associated diagnoses.Results
During 2013–2015, 35 (13.3%) of 263 patients with AMI were readmitted within 30 days of discharge compared with 19 (13.4%) of 142 patients during 2016 (not significant). During the same time, LOS was <3 days in most patients. From 2013 to 2015, the initial hospital time was 6 ± 6 days, whereas time out of the hospital before readmission was 11 ± 8 days; these times did not differ from 2016. Initial therapeutic decisions were based on coronary anatomy in >90% of patients with a decision to proceed with revascularization in most patients. Diagnoses during readmission to the hospital were also similar during early and later time periods and most frequently were a result of either coronary artery bypass grafting–related complications from the initial hospitalization or elective coronary artery bypass grafting. Acute coronary syndrome–related diagnoses and recurrent noncardiac causes of chest pain also were common diagnoses during both time periods and did not involve extensive workup during the readmission.Conclusions
Readmissions for patients with AMI were stable during a 4-year period, at a time that efforts to reduce LOS were emphasized. Because a significant proportion of readmissions involved noncardiac sources of chest pain, improved communication between the emergency department and in-patient cardiology services at the time of triage may be a feasible way to improve efficiency of utilization.