What is a hospital readmission

A hospital readmission occurs when a patient is admitted to a hospital within a specified time period after being discharged from a previous hospitalization. For Medicare, this time period is 30 days, and includes hospital readmissions to any hospital, not just the hospital the patient was originally hospitalized. Medicare uses an “all-cause” definition of readmission, meaning that hospital stays within 30 days of a discharge are considered readmissions, regardless of the reason.

Cost of readmission

Preventable hospital readmissions are a big part of unnecessary medical spending. According to data from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), the estimated annual cost for Medicare is $26 billion annually and $17 billion is considered avoidable. Medicare fined 2,610 hospitals for admitting patients within 30 days of a discharge in 2014; These hospitals faced a penalty rate that increased from 2 percent to 3 percent.



  • Patients sent home, with no post-discharge support.
  • An insufficient follow-up in the home.
  • Complications following procedures.
  • Inadequate monitoring and follow-up for drug side effects and adverse reactions.
  • Lack of knowledge on diseases and signs and symptoms to report.
  • Patients receiving duplicate prescriptions.
  • Lack of knowledge on home safety precautions.
  • Lack of signs and symptoms to report, after a surgical procedure.
  • Lack of proper wound care after discharge.
  • Lack of communications between physicians.
  • Lack of knowledge of a proper diet.
  • Lack of an accurate medication discharge list.
  • Polypharmacy
  • Multiple chronic conditions.
  • Lack of family or friend support.
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