BACKGROUND: Although hospitalization for acute decompensated heart failure (HF) is common and associated with poor outcomes and high costs, few evidence-based recommendations are available to guide patient management. Thus, management of inpatient HF remains heterogeneous. We evaluated if physician-specific self-reported HF practice patterns were associated with 2 important contributors to resource utilization: length of stay (LOS) and 30-day readmission. METHODS AND RESULTS: A 5-point Likert scale survey was created to assess physician-specific HF discharge strategies and administered to all cardiologists and hospitalists at a single large academic teaching hospital. Practice patterns potentially impacting LOS and discharge decisions were queried, including use of physical examination findings, approaches to diuretic use and influence of kidney function. Likert scale responses are reported as means with any value above 3.00 considered more influential and any value below 3.00 considered less influential. Physician-specific LOS and 30-day readmission rates from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, were extracted from the electronic record. We received survey responses and HF utilization metrics from 58 of 69 surveyed physicians (32 hospitalists and 26 cardiologists), encompassing 753 HF discharges over a 1-year period. Median LOS was 4.5 days (interquartile range, 4.0-5.8) and total 30-day readmission rate was 17.0% (128 unique readmissions). Physicians with below-median LOS placed less importance on observing a patient on oral diuretics for 24 hours before discharge (Likert 2.54 versus 3.30, P=0.01), reaching documented dry weight (Likert 2.93 versus 3.60, P=0.02), and complete resolution of dyspnea on exertion (Likert 3.64 versus 4.10, P=0.03) when compared with those above-median LOS. In contrast, no surveyed discharge practices were associated with physician-specific 30-day readmission. CONCLUSIONS: We identified specific inpatient HF discharge practice patterns that associated with shorter LOS but not with readmission rates. These may be targets for future interventions aimed at cost reduction; additional larger studies are needed for further exploration.
- heart failure
- patient discharge
- patient readmission
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine