BackgroundReadmissions after exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are penalized under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). Understanding attributable diagnoses at readmission would improve readmission reduction strategies.
ObjectivesDetermine factors that portend 30-day readmissions attributable to COPD versus non-COPD diagnoses among patients discharged following COPD exacerbations.
Design, setting, and participantsWe analyzed COPD discharges in the Nationwide Readmissions Database from 2010 to 2016 using inclusion and readmission definitions in HRRP.
Main outcomes and measuresWe evaluated readmission odds for COPD versus non-COPD returns using a multilevel, multinomial logistic regression model. Patient-level covariates included age, sex, community characteristics, payer, discharge disposition, and Elixhauser Comorbidity Index. Hospital-level covariates included hospital ownership, teaching status, volume of annual discharges, and proportion of Medicaid patients.
ResultsOf 1,622,983 (a weighted effective sample of 3,743,164) eligible COPD hospitalizations, 17.25% were readmitted within 30 days (7.69% for COPD and 9.56% for other diagnoses). Sepsis, heart failure, and respiratory infections were the most common non-COPD return diagnoses. Patients readmitted for COPD were younger with fewer comorbidities than patients readmitted for non-COPD. COPD returns were more prevalent the first two days after discharge than non-COPD returns. Comorbidity was a stronger driver for non-COPD (odds ratio [OR] 1.19) than COPD (OR 1.04) readmissions.
ConclusionThirty-day readmissions following COPD exacerbations are common, and 55% of them are attributable to non-COPD diagnoses at the time of return. Higher burden of comorbidity is observed among non-COPD than COPD rehospitalizations. Readmission reduction efforts should focus intensively on factors beyond COPD disease management to reduce readmissions considerably by aggressively attempting to mitigate comorbid conditions.