Surgical oncology patients have multiple comorbidities and are at high risk of readmission. Prior studies are limited in their ability to capture readmissions outside of the index hospital that performed the surgery. Our goal is to evaluate risk factors for readmission for head and neck cancer patients on a national scale.A retrospective cohort study of head and neck cancer patients in the Nationwide Readmissions Database (2013). Our main outcome was 30-day readmission. Statistical analysis included 2-sided t tests, ?2, and multivariate logistic regression analysis.Within 30days, 16.1% of 11,832 patients were readmitted and 20% of readmissions were at non-index hospitals, costing $31million. Hypopharyngeal cancer patients had the highest readmission rate (29.6%), followed by laryngeal (21.8%), oropharyngeal (18.2%), and oral cavity (11.6%) cancers (P<0.001). Half of readmissions occurred within 10days and were often associated with infections (27%) or wound complications (12%). Patients from lower household income areas were more likely to be readmitted (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16-2.05). Patients with valvular disease (OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.16-3.69), rheumatoid arthritis/collagen vascular disease (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.27-3.31), liver disease (OR, 2.02, 95% CI, 1.37-2.99), and hypothyroidism (OR 1.30; 95% CI, 1.02-1.66) were at highest risk of readmission.The true rate of 30-day readmissions after head and neck cancer surgery is 16%, capturing non-index hospital readmissions which make up 20% of readmissions. Readmissions after head and neck cancer surgery are most commonly associated with infections and wound complications.
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