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home health care, patient readmission



  1. Anderson, Mary Ann
  2. Helms, Lelia B.
  3. Hanson, Kathleen S.
  4. DeVilder, Nancy W.


Background: The extensive literature concerning hospital readmissions is grounded in a medical or hospital perspective, and fails to address hospital readmissions during home care.


Objectives: To describe clients who have unplanned returns to an inpatient setting during the first 100 days of home care service delivery.


Method: Using the Hospital Readmission Inventory (HRI), an audit tool with previously established validity and reliability, 916 medical records for clients from 11 midwestern home care agencies were reviewed retrospectively.


Results: Typically, clients were referred for their first home care admission after a 9-day hospital length of stay for a cardiovascular, respiratory, or neoplastic disorder. After an average 18-day length home care stay, clients were readmitted to the hospital, usually due to the development of a new problem, or due to deterioration in health status related to the primary or to a secondary medical diagnosis. Significant respiratory, cardiovascular or GI symptoms were generally present at hospital readmission. Typically, readmitted clients were 75 year old married females, who had been able to care for themselves at home. At hospital readmission, home care nurses judged these clients to be moderately ill, and likely in need of acute care.


Conclusions: Chronic illness appears to be the best indicator for hospital readmission. The crucial time period for hospital readmission during home care is the first 2-3 weeks following hospital discharge. Intensive study of home care service arrangements utilized by readmitted patients, as well as agency variations, are needed. Study findings concerning patients readmitted from home care point to similarities with rehospitalized patients generally. Findings may assist home care clinicians in targeting high risk patients who could benefit from interventions aimed at minimizing unplanned returns to the hospital.