Hospital readmissions occur commonly in those receiving cancer care and result in impaired quality of life and increased costs. Causes of readmission in safety net hospitals that serve vulnerable populations are not well understood. The primary goal of this project was to identify potentially avoidable and intervenable causes of readmissions to an urban safety net hospital.
A retrospective chart review was performed on patients who were readmitted within 30 days of discharge from the hematology and oncology service at Boston Medical Center over the 6-month period between October 2018 and March 2019. Charts were reviewed by three internal medicine residents and discussed under the supervision of an attending oncologist.
Two hundred ninety-one patient encounters involving 203 unique patients were identified in the 6-month study period. Of these 291 encounters, 80 encounters (27.5%) were followed by a readmission within 30 days and occurred in 61 (30.0%) unique patients. Nineteen (31.1%) of these 61 patients experienced two readmissions within 30 days of discharge. Twenty-five readmissions (31.3%) were classified as potentially avoidable, with the most common cause of potentially avoidable readmissions attributed to ascitic or pleural fluid reaccumulation (8, 32%). The majority of presumed nonpreventable readmissions were due to expected complications of cancer progression and treatment-related side effects.
In conclusion, readmissions were common, and a modifiable reason for 30-day readmissions was identified. Addressing recurrent ascitic and pleural fluid reaccumulation in the outpatient setting could help to reduce inpatient hospital readmission on an inpatient oncology service.