an In The Media Appearance

"Hospitals Stopped Readmitting So Many Medicare Patients. Did That Cost Lives?" - New York Times. 01/18/2019

“To control for the fact that some patients are much sicker than others to begin with, Medicare uses “risk-adjusted” readmission statistics to prevent unfair penalties when higher-risk patients return to the hospital.

Those designing the new program expected hospitals to reduce readmissions by improving transitional care: giving discharged patients better instructions, following up with advice and referrals, perhaps providing home visits.

But a study of seven million Medicare hospitalizations suggested a more disappointing explanation. Looking at readmissions before the program, then after its announcement and implementation, the researchers noticed a distinct drop in a single month: January 2011.
“The idea that one hospital would figure this out in a month is a stretch,” said Christopher Ody, a health care researcher at Northwestern University who led the study. “That 3,000 hospitals would figure it out in the same month is incredibly unlikely.”

What happened? Dr. Ody suspects a change in administrative practices, not an improvement in care.”


David M. Cutler

David C. Grabowski

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