Association of Discharge Summary Quality With Readmission Risk for Patients Hospitalized With Heart Failure Exacerbation
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Patients admitted with heart failure have disproportionately high readmission rates, most recently ranging from 17.5% to 30.3% nationally.1 The Affordable Care Act penalizes hospitals with higher than average readmission rates after admissions for heart failure. However, clinicians remain uncertain, which strategies are associated with reducing readmissions in this population.2
Experts have proposed that the creation and transmission of a high-quality discharge summary to outpatient clinicians may improve the transition from hospital to home. Discharge summaries may facilitate safer transitions in care by informing outpatient clinicians about the course of hospitalization, identifying pending studies requiring follow-up, suggesting further follow-up testing, and clarifying changes in medications and treatments after discharge. Nonetheless, despite widespread enthusiasm for improving the quality of discharge summaries, there have been few studies of the effectiveness of discharge summaries in helping to avoid readmissions, and those few have found no association of timeliness,3,4 transmission,5,6 or content5 with readmission. To determine the association of discharge quality and readmission in a large national sample, we examined discharge summaries of patients enrolled in the Telemonitoring to Improve Heart Failure Outcomes (Tele-HF) randomized controlled trial.
Methods and Results
Study Cohort and Setting
The Tele-HF study included patients living at home and hospitalized for heart failure in the previous 30 days.7 Patients in Tele-HF were recruited from 33 cardiology practices in 21 states and the District of Columbia. We obtained discharge summaries for the index hospitalization. Wherever possible, we obtained …