CMS Stats Show One in Five Medicare Patients Readmitted Within a Month


July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009 – New information added this week to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare Web site shows patients frequently return to a hospital after discharge, a possible indicator of how well the facility did the first time around.

On average, one in five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from a hospital today will return within a month. Reducing the rate of hospital readmissions to improve quality and achieve savings are key components of President Obama’s healthcare reform agenda.

"The President and Congress have both identified the reduction of readmissions as a target area for health reform," said U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "When we reduce readmissions, we improve the quality of care patients receive and cut healthcare costs."

With the update announced today, Hospital Compare will provide better data on the previously posted mortality rates for individual hospitals, as well as the new data on 30-day readmissions for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. Previously, Hospital Compare had provided only mortality rates for these three conditions.

Research shows that hospital readmissions reduce the quality of health care while increasing hospital costs. Hospital Compare data show that 19.9 percent of patients admitted for heart attack treatment will return to the hospital within 30 days, and 24.5 percent admitted for heart failure will return within 30 days.

“The American College of Cardiology (ACC) supports public reporting of these measures because they are intended to drive quality improvement efforts to enhance care in these important and high volume clinical areas,” said Alfred Bove, M.D., ACC president. “Reporting of the readmission measures provides hospitals with critical information about the quality of care they provide. As Congress gets set to vote on overarching health reform bills in the coming weeks, these data are critical to helping benchmark and ensure quality care.”

The ACC is encouraging its members to review and act on the data. It is also gearing up to help hospitals respond to the measures by guiding efforts to improve patient care and by providing leadership and technical assistance. The ACC's new Hospital to Home (H2H) initiative will provide evidence-based strategies for reducing cardiovascular readmissions by 20 percent by 2012. This comprehensive new effort, which is in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), is designed to improve the transition from hospital to home and improve outcomes of cardiovascular health.

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