Background Hospitals are challenged to reduce length of stay (LOS), yet simultaneously reduce readmissions for patients with heart failure (HF). This study investigates whether 30-day rehospitalization or an alternative measure of total inpatient days over an episode of care (EOC) is the best indicator of resource use, HF quality, and outcomes. Methods Using data from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure Registry linked to Medicare claims, we ranked and compared hospitals by LOS, 30-day readmission rate, and overall EOC metric, defined as all hospital days for an HF admission and any subsequent admissions within 30 days. We divided hospitals into quartiles by 30-day EOC and 30-day readmission rates. We compared performance by EOC and readmission rate quartiles with respect to quality of care indicators and 30-day postdischarge mortality. Results The population had a mean age of 80 ± 7.95 years, 45% were male, and 82% were white. Hospital-level unadjusted median index LOS and overall EOC were 4.9 (4.2-5.6) and 6.2 (5.3-7.4) days, respectively. Median 30-day readmission rate was 23.2%. Hospital HF readmission rate was not associated with initial hospital LOS, only slightly associated with total EOC rank (r = 0.26, P = .001), and inversely related to HF performance measures. After adjustment, there was no association between 30-day readmission and decreased 30-day mortality. In contrast, better performance on the EOC metric was associated with decreased odds of 30-day mortality. Conclusions Although hospital 30-day readmission rate was poorly correlated with LOS, quality measures, and 30-day mortality, better performance on the EOC metric was associated with better 30-day survival. Total inpatient days during a 30-day EOC may more accurately reflect overall resource use and better serve as a target for quality improvement efforts. (Am Heart J 2013;165:987-994.e1.).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine