Publication Abstract

Authors: Lucas DJ, Ejaz A, Bischof DA, Schneider EB, Pawlik TM

Title: Variation in readmission by hospital after colorectal cancer surgery.

Journal: JAMA Surg 149(12):1272-7

Date: 2014 Dec

Abstract: IMPORTANCE: Hospital readmission after colorectal surgery is common, with reported 30-day readmission rates ranging from 10% to 14%. Readmission has become a major hospital quality metric, but it is unclear whether there is much difference in readmission among hospitals after appropriate risk adjustment. OBJECTIVE: To assess the variability in risk-adjusted readmission rates among hospitals after colorectal surgery. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We performed a hierarchical multivariable logistic regression analysis of observational data obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare linked database, a nationally representative cancer registry. We studied 44,822 patients who underwent colorectal resection for cancer at 1401 US hospitals from January 1, 1997, through December 31, 2002. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Variation in risk-adjusted 30-day readmission among hospitals. RESULTS: The median age of the study patients was 78 years (interquartile range [IQR], 72-83 years). The overall 30-day readmission rate was 12.3% (n = 5502). Looking at hospitals that performed at least 5 operations annually, we found marked variation in raw readmission rates, with a range of 0% to 41.2% (IQR, 9.5%-14.8%). However, after adjusting for patient characteristics, comorbidities, and operation types in a hierarchical model, no significant variability was found in readmission rates among hospitals, with a range of 11.3% to 13.2% (IQR, 12.1%-12.4%). Furthermore, the 95% CI for hospital-specific readmission overlapped the overall mean at every hospital. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Little risk-adjusted variation exists in hospital readmission rates after colorectal surgery. The use of readmission rates as a high-stakes quality measure for payment adjustment or public reporting across surgical specialties should proceed cautiously and must include appropriate risk adjustment.