AT ACOG 2017

SAN DIEGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Vulnerable patients experienced higher 30-day postpartum readmission rates, regardless of site of care, results from a large national analysis demonstrated.

“Although childbirth is the most common indication for inpatient admission in the United States – accounting for up to 4 million inpatient stays per year – national 30-day postpartum readmission rates, reasons for readmissions, and variation in readmission rates according to patient clinical and demographic characteristics on a national scale remain unknown,” Anju Ranjit, MD, said in an interview prior to the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In an effort to determine 30-day readmission rates following delivery in the United States, assess for access-based differences in readmission rates, and determine if differences vary by site of care, the researchers used the Nationwide Readmissions Database to identify deliveries during January 2013-October 2013. They defined “vulnerable patients” as those on Medicaid or uninsured patients or patients with income of less than $25,000 per year. They defined “nonvulnerable patients” as those with private and other types of insurance or patients with an income of more than $25,000 per year. Finally, they ranked hospitals by the proportion of vulnerable patients served.

Dr. Ranjit, a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and her associates used multivariable logistic regression to compare differences in 30-day readmissions among 499,578 hospitals serving a higher proportion of vulnerable patients (safety net hospitals) with 877,325 hospital serving a higher proportion of nonvulnerable patients (non–safety net hospitals). Models were adjusted for differences in patient demographics, comorbidities, pregnancy risk-status, type of deliveries, and hospital characteristics.

The researchers included 1,374,903 deliveries in the analysis, which were weighted to represent 3,113,047 deliveries nationwide. The national 30-day postpartum readmission rate was 1.4/100 deliveries. The top three reasons for readmission were wound infection (20.8%), infection (7.7%), and hypertension-related complications (6.2%).

Dr. Ranjit reported that in 2013, a total of 724,833 (53.3%) deliveries were to vulnerable patients and the remaining 652,070 (47.4%) to nonvulnerable patients. The rate of 30-day postpartum readmissions were higher among vulnerable patients, compared with their nonvulnerable counterparts (1.52% vs.1.18%, respectively; adjusted odds ratio, 1.31) and among patients who were treated at hospitals managing a higher proportion of vulnerable patients (1.51% vs.1.27%; adjusted OR 1.19).

“Higher readmission rates seen among vulnerable patients across institutions speak to the need to address disparities in perinatal care,” Dr. Ranjit said. “Quality improvement interventions targeted at safety net hospitals, where the majority of vulnerable patients seek care, could be helpful in reducing readmission rates among vulnerable populations.”

She acknowledged certain limitations of study, including the use of administrative data that is subject to coding error and that lacks clinical granularity.

“We were unable to control for patient’s race and region of residence due of lack of information,” she added. “Classification of hospitals into ‘safety net’ and ‘non–safety net’ hospitals was done – based on the proportion of vulnerable patients served, as identified in the national readmissions database – for the purpose of this study only.”

Dr. Ranjit reported having no financial disclosures.