Objectives: The research question was whether training level of admitting physicians and referrals from practitioners in primary health care (PHC) are risk factors for emergency readmission within 30 days to internal medicine.
Methods: This report is a prospective multicenter study carried out during 1 month in 1997 in seven departments of internal medicine in the County of Stockholm, Sweden. Two of the units were at university hospitals, three at county hospitals and two in district hospitals. The study area is metropolitan–suburban with 1,762,924 residents. Data were analyzed by multiple logistic regression.
Results: A total of 5,131 admissions, thereby 408 unplanned readmissions (8 percent) were registered (69.8 percent of 7,348 true inpatient episodes). The risk of emergency readmission increased with patient's age and independently 1.40 times (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.13–1.74) when residents decided on hospitalization. Congestive heart failure as primary or comorbid condition was the main reason for unplanned readmission. Referrals from PHC were associated with risk decrease (odds ratio, 0.53; 95 percent CI, 0.38–0.73).
Conclusion: The causes of unplanned hospital readmissions are mixed. Patient contact with primary health care appears to reduce the recurrence. In addition to the diagnoses of cardiac failure, training level of admitting physicians in emergency departments was an independent risk factor for early readmission. Our conclusion is that it is cost-effective to have all decisions on admission to hospital care confirmed by senior doctors. Inappropriate selection of patients to inpatient care contributes to poor patient outcomes and reduces cost-effectiveness and quality of care.