For-Profit Hospital Status and Rehospitalizations at Different Hospitals: An Analysis of Medicare Data

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For-Profit Hospital Status and Rehospitalizations at Different Hospitals: An Analysis of Medicare Data

Background: About one quarter of rehospitalized Medicare patients are admitted to hospitals different from their original hospital. The extent to which this practice is related to for-profit hospital status and affects payments and mortality is unknown. Objective: To describe and examine predictors of and payments for rehospitalization at a different hospital among Medicare patients rehospitalized within 30 days at for-profit and nonprofit or public hospitals. Design: Cohort study of patients discharged and rehospitalized from January 2005 to November 2006. Setting: Medicare fee-for-service hospitals throughout the United States. Participants: A 5% random national sample of Medicare patients with acute care rehospitalizations within 30 days of discharge (n = 74 564). Measurements: 30-day rehospitalizations at different hospitals and total payments or mortality over the subsequent 30 days. Multivariate logistic and quantile regression models included index hospital for-profit status, discharge counts, geographic region, rural–urban commuting area, and teaching status; patient sociodemographic characteristics, disability status, and comorbid conditions; and a measure of risk adjustment. Results: 16 622 patients (22%) in the sample were rehospitalized at a different hospital. Factors associated with increased risk for rehospitalization at a different hospital included index hospitalization at a for-profit, major medical school–affiliated, or low-volume hospital and having a Medicare-defined disability. Compared with patients rehospitalized at the same hospital, patients rehospitalized at different hospitals had higher adjusted 30-day total payments (median additional cost, $1308 per patient; P < 0.001) but no statistically significant differences in 30-day mortality, regardless of index hospital for-profit status. Limitation: The database lacked detailed clinical information about patients and did not include information about specific provider practice motivations or the role of patient choice in hospitalization venues. Conclusion: Rehospitalizations at different hospitals are common among Medicare patients, are more likely among those initially hospitalized at a for-profit hospital, and are related to increased overall payments without improved mortality.

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