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J Hosp Med. 2014 May;9(5):310-4. doi: 10.1002/jhm.2173. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Risk factors for potentially avoidable readmissions due to end-of-life care issues.

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Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.



Repeated hospitalizations are frequent toward the end of life, where each admission should be an opportunity to initiate advance-care planning to high-risk patients.


To identify the risk factors for having a 30-day potentially avoidable readmission due to end-of-life care issues among all medical patients.


Nested case-control study.


All 10,275 consecutive discharges from any medical service of an academic tertiary medical center in Boston, Massachusetts between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.


A random sample of all the potentially avoidable 30-day readmissions was independently reviewed by 9 trained physicians to identify the ones due to end-of-life issues.


Among 534, 30-day potentially avoidable readmission cases reviewed, 80 (15%) were due to an end-of-life care issue. In multivariable analysis, the following risk factors were significantly associated with a 30-day potentially avoidable readmission due to end-of-life care issues: number of admissions in the previous 12 months (odds ratio [OR]: 1.10 per admission, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02-1.20), neoplasm (OR: 5.60, 95% CI: 2.85-10.98), opiate medications at discharge (OR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.29-4.07), Elixhauser comorbidity index (OR: 1.16 per 5-point increase, 95% CI: 1.10-1.22). The discrimination of the model (C statistic) was 0.85.


In a medical population, we identified 4 main risk factors that were significantly associated with 30-day potentially avoidable readmission due to end-of-life care issues, producing a model with very good to excellent discrimination. Patients with these risk factors might benefit from palliative care consultation prior to discharge in order to improve end-of-life care and possibly reduce unnecessary rehospitalizations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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