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J Surg Res. 2011 Oct;170(2):297-301. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2011.04.049. Epub 2011 May 19.

The surgical revolving door: risk factors for hospital readmission.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care, and Emergency Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.



Unplanned hospital readmissions increase healthcare costs and patient morbidity. We sought to identify risk factors associated with early readmission in surgical patients.


All admissions from a mixed surgical unit during 2009 were retrospectively reviewed and unplanned readmissions within 30 d of discharge were identified. Demographic data, length of stay, pre-existing diagnoses, and complications during the index admission were evaluated. T-tests and Fisher exact tests were used to examine the relationship of independent variables with readmission. Univariate and multivariate regression analysis were performed.


A total of 1808 index admissions occurred during the study period. In all, 51 (3%) patients were readmitted within 30 d of discharge. The majority of readmissions (53%) were for infectious reasons. On univariate analyses, DVT (P = 0.004) and acute renal failure (P = 0.002) were associated with increased risk of readmission. Readmitted patients were also more likely to have public insurance (63% versus 37%, P = 0.03) and have a longer stay in the hospital (8 d, range 4-14 d versus 3 d, range 2-7 d, P = 0.001). Initial admission after trauma evaluation was associated with a decreased risk of readmission (OR 0.374, P = 0.004). Other demographic variables and pre-existing conditions were not associated with increased readmission. On multivariate logistic regression only DVT (P = 0.039) and LOS (P = 0.014) remained significant.


Increased LOS and the development of a DVT are risk factors for early unplanned hospital readmission. Admission following trauma is associated with a decreased risk of readmission, possibly due to proactive multidisciplinary discharge planning and geographically-based nurse practitioner involvement.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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