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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Readmissions redux: Something that might actually work

For a change, here’s some good news on the readmissions front: A brand-new study from Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology presents solid evidence that reducing hospital-acquired infections can reduce readmission rates as well.

The study (which you can read in full here) looked at patients admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center from 2001-2008, focusing on those who were found to have positive clinical cultures for MRSA, C. diff, or VRE more than 48 hours after admission. “These patients were 40 percent more likely to [be] readmitted to the hospital within a year and 60 percent more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than patients with negative or no cultures,” according to a press release from SHEA.

According to the study itself, “[O]ur results suggest that healthcare-associated positive clinical culture results may be associated with a significantly shorter time to hospital readmission. Efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections may have the additional benefit of reducing the incidence of hospital readmission and associated poor patient outcomes and increased healthcare costs.”

It’s just one study, but at least it’s encouraging. To date, hospitals haven’t had much to show for their efforts to reduce 30-day readmissions, as I noted in a fairly pessimistic blog post late last year. I had a good reason for my pessimism — a Dartmouth Atlas report from September 2011 maintained that “[l]ittle progress was seen in reducing readmission rates over the five-year period 2004 to 2009. In fact, for some conditions, readmission rates have increased for the nation and for many regions and hospitals.”

Now, though, we’ve got a study strongly suggesting there’s a tangible association between two of the hottest issues in healthcare. If your facility isn’t already making a full-court press to reduce hospital-acquired infections — well, you might want to get on that.

For tips on how to actually cut those HAIs, you’re welcome to visit our sister blog, HIC Prevent, written by the estimable Gary Evans. Or, better yet, check out the newsletter he writes, Hospital Infection Control and Prevention.