One in Five Medicare Patients are Rehospitalized Within 30 Days

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that Medicare payments for unplanned re-hospitalizations totaled $17.4 billion in 2004. Based on Medicare billing data for fiscal year 2003-2004, the authors estimate that one in five Medicare patients were re-hospitalized within 30 days of discharge, with only about 10 percent of these re-hospitalizations planned.
The most frequent reasons for re-hospitalization were:

  • Heart failure (8.6 percent)
  • Pneumonia (7.3 percent)
  • Psychoses (4.3 percent)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3.9 percent)

Half of patients re-hospitalized within 30 days did not visit a physician after discharge to the community, Nancy Foster, AHA vice president for quality and patient safety, said.