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Hospital readmission rates released

A cost containment body today released a report detailing the rates of re-admission to hospitals throughout the state.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Contain­ment Council conducted the research for the report, using 30-day re-admission rates from 2009 and 2010 for acute-care hospitals, including adults 18 years and older.

Hospital re-admissions are closely watched as an indicator of the quality of care received and as a major cost driver, the report stated.

Lancaster County had the best rate of re-admission for any reason within 30 days in the midstate, at about 10 percent. Dauphin County had the worst for the area, at about 14 percent. Cumberland and Lebanon counties were about 11 percent, and York Countyre-admission rates were about 12 percent, according to the report.

Pennsylvania’s rate of re-admission was 13.5 percent, the report said.

Top reasons for re-admission throughout the state were heart failure, mental health disorders, an abnormal heart beat and primary cancer, the report listed.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has said that potentially preventable re-admissions could equal as much as $12 billion per year in medical costs, according to the report.

As a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, starting in October hospitals with excess rates of preventable re-admissions within 30 days for certain conditions will face reductions in Medicare reimbursements. The list of conditions will expand by 2015.

“The challenge for the health care system is to identify re-admissions that are truly preventable and work aggressively to curtail them,” the report stated.

To decrease unnecessary re-admissions, hospitals can reduce the risk of infection, pay close attention to medications, ensure patients are ready for discharge and that they understand future care plans, and closely work with those that will be a part of the patient’s care after discharge, according to the report.

The Hospital & Health system Association of Pennsylvania noted that the report identified mental health disorders as a major factor in re-admissions. Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2012-13 budget would cut county health and human services funding and change eligibility requirements for General Assistance programs, said the organization’s President and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan.

“(The budget will) likely affect a disproportionate number of people with behavioral health conditions — we can expect an increase in the number of re-admissions for these conditions, coupled with a commensurate increase in uncompensated care provided by hospitals to these patients,” she said.

Holly White

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