The hidden burden of unplanned readmission after emergency general surgery

Eva M. Urrechaga, Alessia C. Cioci, Joshua P. Parreco, Gareth P. Gilna, Rebecca A. Saberi, D. Dante Yeh, Tanya L. Zakrison, Nicholas Namias, Rishi Rattan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There are no national studies of nonelective readmissions after emergency general surgery (EGS) diagnoses that track nonindex hospital readmission. We sought to determine the rate of overall and nonindex hospital readmissions at 30 and 90 days after discharge for EGS diagnoses, hypothesizing a significant portion would be to nonindex hospitals. METHODS: The 2013 to 2014 Nationwide Readmissions Database was queried for all patients 16 years or older admitted with an EGS primary diagnosis and survived index hospitalization. Multivariable logistic regression identified risk factors for nonelective 30- and 90-day readmission to index and nonindex hospitals. RESULTS: Of 4,171,983 patients, 13% experienced unplanned readmission at 30 days. Of these, 21% were admitted to a nonindex hospital. By 90 days, 22% experienced an unplanned readmission, of which 23% were to a nonindex hospital. The most common reason for readmission was infection. Publicly insured or uninsured patients accounted for 67% of admissions and 77% of readmissions. Readmission predictors at 30 days included leaving against medical advice (odds ratio [OR], 2.51 [2.47-2.56]), increased length of stay (4-7 days: OR, 1.42 [1.41-1.43]; >7 days: OR, 2.04 [2.02-2.06]), Charlson Comorbidity Index ≥2 (OR, 1.72 [1.71-1.73]), public insurance (Medicare: OR, 1.45 [1.44-1.46]; Medicaid: OR, 1.38 [1.37-1.40]), EGS patients who fell into the "Other" surgical category (OR, 1.42 [1.38-1.48]), and nonroutine discharge. Risk factors for readmission remained consistent at 90 days. CONCLUSION: Given that nonindex hospital EGS readmission accounts for nearly a quarter of readmissions and often related to important benchmarks such as infection, current EGS quality metrics are inaccurate. This has implications for policy, benchmarking, and readmission reduction programs. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiological study, level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-897
Number of pages7
JournalThe journal of trauma and acute care surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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