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Connecticut researcher says longer hospital stays reduce heart failure readmission rates

A photo of a patient receiving care in the hospital.
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Researchers from Eastern Connecticut State University have found patients with congestive heart failure who have a longer initial stay in hospital are less likely to be readmitted within 30 days of being discharged.

Congestive heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in the U.S. for patients over the age of 65.

Fatma Pakdil, professor of management at Eastern’s Department of Management & Marketing, said their study chose to look at congestive heart failure because it has such varying readmission rates.

“[Between] 18% and 42% in the previous years: This is what the previous literature shows us. We also know that [heart failure] is one of the six conditions monitored [...] specifically by the hospital readmission reduction program,” she said.

The authors of the study analyzed eight years of national readmission data maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pakdil said reducing readmissions can help improve patient care and save the healthcare industry money. The cost to readmit a congestive heart failure patient can often be more expensive than the initial hospital admission for treatment and service.

She said just a few days extra stay could make a difference.

“Our research shows that just one extra hospital day reduces the probability of 30-day readmission by approximately six-percentage points for routine discharges and discharges to short term care facilities,” Pakdil said.

“However, again, each patient has different conditions, different morbidities,” she added.

The study, co-authored with Steve Muchiri, associate professor economics and finance at Eastern, looked at patients who averaged to be in their 70s and covered by Medicare. Other studies have shown about 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days of their discharge, costing $17 billion per year to the Medicare system.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.