Date: October 11, 2022

Author: Jeremy Rodriguez

A hospital readmission is when one is admitted back to a hospital within 30, 60, or 90 days after discharge. According to, “the number of hospital readmissions is often used in part to measure the quality of hospital care, since it can mean that your follow-up care wasn’t properly organized, or that you weren’t fully treated before discharge.” Why are hospital readmissions bad? What is the leading cause of hospital readmissions? In this post, we will review what you need to know about hospital readmissions.

Causes of Hospital Readmission

It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of hospital readmissions but we can help you narrow it down. Below are some factors that cause hospital readmissions.

  • Sepsis, the body’s extreme response to an infection, is the leading cause of hospital readmission. This condition starts a chain reaction throughout your body and is considered a life-threatening medical emergency.

  • Medication errors and inaccurate medication history can result in patients having inadequate or incorrect medication.

  • Improper transition of care can lead to poor communication and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.

  • Inadequate nutrition can increase risk for malnutrition and decrease your chance of healing and returning to normal activities.

  • Getting discharged too early can result in an underlying condition going unnoticed.

  • The patient’s disinterest and noncompliance can result in them not properly following their treatment plan.

  • Misinterpretation of discharge instructions, or improper communication from staff, can lead to the patient improperly caring for themselves.

Risk Factors for Hospital Readmission

While there are a few direct causes of hospital readmission, there are also people who are at higher risk for readmission. As we reviewed above, sepsis is the leading cause of hospital readmissions. Infections that lead to sepsis often start in the lung, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract. This can put patients at higher risk of being readmitted within 30 days. Other risk factors include:

  • Acute kidney failure

  • Chronic kidney disease with heart failure

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Hypertensive heart disease

  • Muscle weakness

  • Myocardial infarction

  • Pneumonia

  • Urinary tract infection

Quick Hospital Readmission Facts

We have reviewed the causes and risk factors for hospital readmission but before we let you go, let’s leave you with a few quick facts.

  • A hospital readmission within 24 hours of discharge is only counted as one stay and not as a “readmission.”

  • Up to 25% of people in the US return to the hospital within 30 days, and up to 15% of readmissions are preventable.

  • Hospital readmissions are costly and are often used as a key performance indicator.

  • All-cause 30-day readmission rates were high in 2018. There were a total of 3.8 million adult hospital readmissions within 30 days, with an average readmission rate of 14 percent and an average readmission cost of $15,200.

  • There are all-cause hospital readmission measures to ensure hospitals and care teams provide appropriate care and discharge planning to patients to help reduce their readmission risks. This includes the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that penalties for preventable readmissions could total $521 million due to changes in how readmissions are measured.

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Date: October 11, 2022

Author: Jeremy Rodriguez

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