Open Access Open Badges Research article

One third of hospital costs for atherothrombotic disease are attributable to readmissions: a linked data analysis

Emily R Atkins*, Elizabeth A Geelhoed, Matthew Knuiman and Tom G Briffa

Author Affiliations

School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:338  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-338

Published: 8 August 2014



Cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death in Australia, with an associated cost burden of 11% of Australian annual health expenditure of which 40% is for hospital admissions. We investigated health outcomes and the components of hospital expenditure in the two years after an atherothrombotic disease admission to a tertiary hospital in an Australian setting.


Using data linkage we analysed two years of hospitalisation data and death records of all men and women aged 35ā€“84 years with an admission to a Western Australian tertiary hospital for atherothrombotic disease in 2007. Costs were identified by matching the Australian refined diagnostic related group on the admission records to the published schedules of public and private hospital costs for the period of interest, and converted to 2013 Australian dollars.


Of 6172 patients studied (74% coronary, 20% cerebrovascular, 6% peripheral), 783 (13%) died during follow-up and 174 of these were in hospital case-fatalities at index. Thirty-two percent of patients (nā€‰=ā€‰1965) accounted for 3172 readmissions to hospital with one in three having multiple hospitalisations. The hazard ratio of atherothrombotic disease readmission was 1.45 (95% CI 1.27, 1.66) in those with more than one vascular territory affected compared to those with only one territory affected after controlling for age, sex, comorbidity, admission type, procedures, and episode length of stay. The total index plus 2-year admission cost for atherothrombotic disease was calculated at $101 million; $71 million for index, and $30 million for readmissions.


Among patients hospitalised with atherothrombotic disease, the cost of related rehospitalisations within 24 months is almost a third of the total. Much of the readmission costs fell within the first year. Whether readmissions and cost associated with atherothrombotic disease can be lowered through secondary prevention measures requires further investigation.

Cardiovascular disease; Coronary heart disease; Hospital; Peripheral vascular disease; Stroke; Linked data; Western Australia