What Common Readmission Diagnoses Among Virginia Medicare Patients Reveal

Thirty day readmissions penalties are costly. Hospitals across the nation spent $41.3 billion in 2011 to treat patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The top diagnoses among Medicare patients are fairly commonplace –  heart failure led the pack with 1.35 million readmissions. Septicemia was second with 92,000 readmissions. Next was pneumonia with 88,000 readmissions. Virginia wasn’t much different, according to the most recent annual data. Septicemia was first with 5,568 readmissions. Heart failure came in second with 5,427 readmissions, while renal failure was third with 3,213 readmissions. These findings reveal that heart failure and renal failure go hand-in-hand, and that septicemia can lead to (or worsen) both. Such patients often come to hospital with diseases that are common in elderly patients – diseases for which there are no cures. Over time, patients lose the abilty to respond to treatment. Managing such patients is more humanely done by community palliative care. Given that, it is prudent for discussions of what palliative care offers to occur prior to patient crises reflected in the pattern of these diagnoses. (8/21/2015)