Underlying reasons associated with hospital readmission following surgery in the United States.
Hospital readmissions have received intensive focus lately, largely compelled by Medicare's expanded financial penalties for excessive readmission rates. This study reviewed 30-day readmissions following surgery at hospitals enrolled in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Nearly half a million operations were included, with an overall readmission rate of 5.7%. Following lower extremity vascular bypass, approximately 1 in 7 patients were readmitted. Surgical site infections accounted for the largest proportion of overall readmissions. It is notable that only 2% of patients were readmitted for the same complication that prompted their index admission, further confirming that surgical readmissions are overwhelmingly due to new complications arising from the procedure. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Lucian Leape notes that analyses of these surgical complications can serve as "treasures" for providing important lessons for improvement, and he calls for a 50% reduction in surgical complication rates in the near term.