Hospital readmission rates in Massachusetts stayed steady last year

DATE : December 18, 2019

A new report finds that the rate of readmissions to Massachusetts hospitals has not changed over the last two years.

The annual report released Wednesday by the Center for Health Information and Analysis, an independent state agency, finds that 15.4% of people released from Massachusetts hospitals in 2018 unexpectedly returned to the hospital within 30 days — the same rate as in 2017.

In 2018, of 536,709 hospital discharges, there were 82,900 readmissions.

Hospital readmissions are a measure typically used to measure the quality of care in a health system, since it looks at whether a patient can stay healthy after they are released from the hospital.

“Unplanned hospital readmissions represent significant costs not only to the health care system but to patients and their families,” said Ray Campbell, CHIA’s executive director, in a statement.

The report finds that the readmission rates were higher for patients with Medicare and Medicaid than for those with commercial insurance. The public insurance programs generally cover older adults, poor people and people with disabilities.

More than half of readmissions were of people who had a history of frequent hospitalizations. Around one-third of readmissions occurred within a week of the patient’s initial discharge.

Readmission rates have increased over the past three years for patients who are discharged from the hospital to a nursing home or rehabilitation facility.

Older patients were more likely to be readmitted than younger patients. The top reasons for readmissions were heart failure; septicemia and disseminated infections; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients with certain illnesses were more likely to be readmitted — for example, those discharged after treatment for sickle cell anemia were readmitted 40% of the time. Those discharged after organ transplants were also particularly likely to be readmitted.

Readmission rates for each hospital can be found in the report, which are posted on CHIA’s website. The hospitals with the highest readmission rates were Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Morton Hospital in Taunton and Steward Good Samaritan in Brockton.


Story by Shira Schoenberg