Thirty-day unplanned postoperative inpatient and emergency department visits following thoracotomy. The Journal of surgical research Shaffer, R., Backhus, L., Finnegan, M. A., Remington, A. C., Kwong, J. Z., Curtin, C., Hernandez-Boussard, T. 2018; 230: 117–24


BACKGROUND: Unplanned visits to the emergency department (ED) and inpatient setting are expensive and associated with poor outcomes in thoracic surgery. We assessed 30-d postoperative ED visits and inpatient readmissions following thoracotomy, a high morbidity procedure.MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed inpatient and ED administrative data from California, Florida, and New York, 2010-2011. "Return to care" was defined as readmission to inpatient facility or ED within 30 d of discharge. Factors associated with return to care were analyzed via multivariable logistic regressions with a fixed effect for hospital variability.RESULTS: Of 30,154 thoracotomies, 6.3% were admitted to the ED and 10.2% to the inpatient setting within 30 d of discharge. Increased risk of inpatient readmission was associated with Medicare (odds ratio [OR] 1.30; P<0.001) and Medicaid (OR 1.31; P<0.0001) insurance status compared to private insurance and black race (OR 1.18; P=0.02) compared to white race. Lung cancer diagnosis (OR 0.83; P<0.001) and higher median income (OR 0.89; P=0.04) were associated with decreased risk of inpatient readmission. Postoperative ED visits were associated with Medicare (OR 1.24; P<0.001) and Medicaid insurance status (OR 1.59; P<0.001) compared to private insurance and Hispanic race (OR 1.19; P=0.04) compared to white race.CONCLUSIONS: Following thoracotomy, postoperative ED visits and inpatient readmissions are common. Patients with public insurance were at high risk for readmission, while patients with underlying lung cancer diagnosis had a lower readmission risk. Emphasizing postoperative management in at-risk populations could improve health outcomes and reduce unplanned returns to care.

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