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Open Access Research article

Institution specific risk factors for 30 day readmission at a community hospital: a retrospective observational study

Lee Park16*, Danielle Andrade2, Andrew Mastey3, James Sun4 and LeRoi Hicks5

Author Affiliations

1 Hospital Medicine Unit, Division of General Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Staniford St, Suite 503B, Boston, MA 02114, USA

2 Decision Support Group, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, 2014 Washington St, Newton, MA 02462, USA

3 Comparative Data and Informatics Group, University Health System Consortium, 155 North Wacker Drive Chicago, Chicago, IL 60606, USA

4 Harvard College, Harvard University 386 Leverett Mail Center, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

5 Division of Hospital Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, 119 Belmont St, Worcester, MA 01605, USA

6 50 Staniford St., Suite 503B, Boston, MA 02115, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:40  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-40

Published: 27 January 2014



As of October 1, 2012, hospitals in the United States with excess readmissions based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) risk-adjusted ratio began being penalized. Given the impact of high readmission rates to hospitals nationally, it is important for individual hospitals to identify which patients may be at highest risk of readmission. The objective of this study was to assess the association of institution specific factors with 30-day readmission.


The study is a retrospective observational study using administrative data from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 conducted at a 257 bed community hospital in Massachusetts. The patients included inpatient medical discharges from the hospitalist service with the primary diagnoses of congestive heart failure, pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The outcome was 30-day readmission rates. After adjusting for known factors that impact readmission, provider associated factors (i.e. hours worked and census on the day of discharge) and hospital associated factors (i.e. floor of discharge, season) were compared.


Over the study time period, there were 3774 discharges by hospitalists, with 637 30-day readmissions (17% readmission rate). By condition, readmission rates were 19.6% (448/2284) for congestive heart failure, 13.0% (141/1083) for pneumonia, and 14.7% (200/1358) for chronic obstructive lung disease. After adjusting for known risk factors (gender, age, length of stay, Elixhauser sum score, admission in the previous year, insurance, disposition, primary diagnosis), we found that patients discharged in the winter remained significantly more likely to be readmitted compared to the summer (OR 1.54, pā€‰=ā€‰0.0008). Patients discharged from the cardiac floor had a trend toward decreased readmission compared a medical/oncology floor (OR 0.85, pā€‰=ā€‰0.08). Hospitalist work flow factors (census and hours on the day of discharge) were not associated with readmission.


We found that 30 day hospital readmissions may be associated with institution specific risk factors, even after adjustment for patient factors. These institution specific risk factors may be targets for interventions to prevent readmissions.

Readmission; Hospital quality; Risk factors