Original Article

Holiday Discharges Are Associated with Higher 30-Day General Internal Medicine Hospital Readmissions at an Academic Medical Center

Authors: Ajay Dharod, MD, Brian J. Wells, MD, PhD, Kristin Lenoir, MPH, Wesley G. Willeford, MD, Michael W. Milks, MD, Hal H. Atkinson, MD, MS

Abstract

Objective: Academic medical centers face unique challenges in educating physician trainees in effective discharge practices to prevent readmissions. Meanwhile, residents must handle high workloads coupled with frequent rotations to different services. This study aimed to determine whether daily service census, service turnover, time of discharge, and day of discharge increase the risk of 30-day readmission.

Methods: All of the discharges from two academic general internal medicine teaching services between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 were included in this observational data analysis. Variables were fit to a 30-day, all-cause readmission outcome using multiple logistic regression with inverse probability of treatment weighting and multiple imputations with chained equations. The following potential confounding variables were included in the model: health system utilization, demographics, laboratory values, and comorbidities.

Results: Among 1935 total discharges, 258 patients (13.3%) were readmitted within 30 days of the index discharge. Turnover, service census, weekend discharge, and time of discharge were not significantly associated with the risk of readmission. Patients discharged during holiday periods had higher odds of readmission (odds ratio 2.56, 95% confidence interval 2.01–3.25), whereas patients discharged on an intern switch day had lower odds of readmission (odds ratio 0.33, 95% confidence interval 0.27–0.41).

Conclusions: Patients who are discharged during holiday periods are at a higher risk of readmission after adjusting for potential confounders. These results also suggest that discharge on an intern switch day had a protective effect on readmission. Further work is needed to examine whether these findings can be replicated, and, if confirmed, to determine to what extent these associations are causal.

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