Hospital Readmissions: Study Finds Most Often It Is A Heart Attack Patient

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that people who have heart attacks in the United States are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days (the standard measuring scale) than people in 16 other countries. Part of this is likely due to the fact that the average length of stay in the United States is THREE days, whereas in other countries it is AT LEAST SIX days.

In the study which spanned over 17 countries, just over eleven percent of the participants were readmitted to the hospital after a specific kind of heart attack where the coronary artery is completely blocked by a clot. In the United States, the readmission rate was 14.5 percent while in other countries it was almost ten percent. Additionally, the United States had the shortest stay at three days whereas in Germany—the country with the longest average stay—it was eight days.

A spokesperson for the American Heart Association and preventive cardiologist in a New York City hospital said it best, that “[t]his study compared the U.S. against 16 other countries and asked how do we [the U.S.] measure up? And, their findings were a little disturbing. About 60 percent of patients with major heart attacks were discharged in three days or less. And, our readmission rates were higher than in other countries. We have the technology and the ability to provide quality care, but we’re just not doing well. Even for the sickest patients, we’re not doing well.”

A week or two ago I posted exactly about hospital readmissions and I believe the study there indicated that elderly individuals were most likely to be readmitted. Now this study indicates that heart patients are also more likely to be readmitted. These two factors create a dangerous combination. The other scary realization is that the longer a patient stays in the hospital, the less likely there is a readmission—AND that the United States is the WORST in terms of hospital stays.

We come to the cost issue: Does keeping 100 percent of patients in the hospital twice as long like other countries cost less than covering the hospital readmission for the 14 percent that needs to come back? Because 85 percent of people will NOT need to be rehospitalized so you could save money on those individuals.