Hospital Readmission and Post-Acute Care Use After Intensive Care Unit Admissions: New ICU Quality Metrics?

Abstract [from journal]

Objective: Care coordination is a national priority. Post-acute care use and hospital readmission appear to be common after critical illness. It is unknown whether specialty critical care units have different readmission rates and what these trends have been over time.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, a cohort of 53,539 medical/surgical patients who were treated in a critical care unit during their index admission were compared with 209,686 patients who were not treated in a critical care unit. The primary outcome was 30-day all cause hospital readmission. Secondary outcomes included post-acute care resource use and immediate readmission, defined as within 7 days of discharge.

Results: Compared to patients discharged after an index hospitalization without critical illness, surviving patients following ICU admission were not more likely to be rehospitalized within 30 days (15.8 vs. 16.1%, p = 0.08). However, they were more likely to receive post-acute care services (45.3% vs. 70.9%, p < 0.001) as well as be rehospitalized within 7 days (5.2 vs. 6.0%, p < 0.001). Post-acute care use and 30-day readmission rates varied by ICU type, the latter ranging from 11.7% after admission in a cardiothoracic critical care unit to 23.1% after admission in a medical critical care unit. 30-day readmission after ICU admission did not decline between 2010 and 2015 (p = 0.38). Readmission rates declined over time for 2 of 4 targeted conditions (heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), but only when the hospitalization did not include ICU admission.

Conclusions: Rehospitalization for survivors following ICU admission is common across all specialty critical care units. Post-acute care use is also common for this population of patients. Overall trends for readmission rates after critical illness did not change over time, and readmission reductions for targeted conditions were limited to hospitalizations that did not include an ICU admission.