Title

Discharge Hospice Referral and Lower 30-Day All-Cause Readmission in Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized for Heart Failure

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2015

Description

Background-Heart failure (HF) is the leading cause for hospital readmission. Hospice care may help palliate HF symptoms but its association with 30-day all-cause readmission remains unknown. Methods and Results-Of the 8032 Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for HF in 106 Alabama hospitals (1998-2001), 182 (2%) received discharge hospice referrals. Of the 7850 patients not receiving hospice referrals, 1608 (20%) died within 6 months post discharge (the hospice-eligible group). Propensity scores for hospice referral were estimated for each of the 1790 (182+1608) patients and were used to match 179 hospice-referral patients with 179 hospice-eligible patients who were balanced on 28 baseline characteristics (mean age, 79 years; 58% women; 18% non-white). Overall, 22% (1742/8032) died in 6 months, of whom 8% (134/1742) received hospice referrals. Among the 358 matched patients, 30-day all-cause readmission occurred in 5% and 41% of hospice-referral and hospice-eligible patients, respectively (hazard ratio associated with hospice referral, 0.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.06-0.24). Hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for 30-day all-cause readmission associated with hospice referral among the 126 patients who died and 232 patients who survived 30-day post discharge were 0.03 (0.04-0.21) and 0.17 (0.08-0.36), respectively. Although 30-day mortality was higher in the hospice referral group (43% versus 27%), it was similar at 90 days (64% versus 67% among hospice-eligible patients). Conclusions-A discharge hospice referral was associated with lower 30-day all-cause readmission among hospitalized patients with HF. However, most patients with HF who died within 6 months of hospital discharge did not receive a discharge hospice referral.

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