BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
The 30-day readmission rate is a common quality metric used by Medicare for adult patients. However, studies in pediatrics have shown lower readmission rates and potentially less preventability. Therefore, some question the utility of the 30-day readmission time frame in pediatrics. Our objective was to describe the characteristics of patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge over a 1-year period and determine the preventability of readmissions occurring 0 to 7 vs 8 to 30 days after discharge from a pediatric hospitalist service at an academic children’s hospital.
Retrospective chart review and hospital administrative data were used to gather medical characteristics, demographics, and process-level metrics for readmitted patients between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. All readmissions were reviewed by 2 senior authors and assigned a preventability category. Subgroup analysis comparing preventability in 0-to-7– and 8-to-30–day readmissions groups was performed. Qualitative thematic analysis was performed on readmissions deemed preventable.
Of 1523 discharges that occurred during the study period, 49 patients, with 65 distinct readmission encounters, were readmitted for an overall 30-day readmission rate of 4.3% (65 of 1523). Twenty-eight percent (9 of 32) of readmissions within 7 days of discharge and 12.1% (4 of 33) occurring 8 to 30 days after discharge were deemed potentially preventable (P = .13). Combined, the 30-day preventable readmission rate was 20% (13 of 65).
We identified a possible association between preventability and time to readmission. If confirmed by larger studies, the 7-day, rather than 30-day, time frame may represent a better quality metric for readmitted pediatric patients.