Emergency department utilization and hospital readmission following bariatric surgery
Macht, Ryan David
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INTRODUCTION: Unplanned hospital visits have emerged as a quality metric encompassing many aspects of postoperative morbidity and deficiencies in the transition from inpatient to outpatient care. This study aims to identify patient, encounter, and organizational factors that may influence Emergency Department (ED) visits and readmissions following bariatric surgery. METHODS: A modified version of a framework initially proposed by Vest et al. in their systematic review of the determinants of preventable readmissions was used as a conceptual framework for this study. The Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative (MBSC) database was used to identify patients undergoing all primary bariatric procedures at 40 centers with >100 patients in the database from 2006–2015. Multivariate logistic regression modeling was used to identify factors associated with unplanned hospital visits. Using an indirect standardization process, each sites’ observed to expected ratio for 30-day readmission was calculated. The association between each site’s adjusted readmission rate with their rate of ED visits, Emergency Department-Sourced readmissions (EDSR), major complications, and compliance with best practices were calculated with Pearson’s correlation coefficients. RESULTS: Younger age, greater comorbidities, increased length of stay, procedure type, and Medicaid/Medicare insurance were significantly associated with readmissions in a multivariate logistic regression model. There was significant variation among sites’ adjusted rates of readmission, EDSR, best practice compliance, and major complications. There was a moderately strong association between each sites’ adjusted readmission rate with their rate of EDSR (r=0.53), major complications (r=0.53), and ED visits (r=0.55). However, the association between bariatric centers’ compliance with best practices to reduce unplanned hospital visits and their readmission rates was fairly weak (r= -0.14). CONCLUSION: Several individual, encounter, and organization-level characteristics are associated with an increased risk of unplanned visits after bariatric surgery. Bariatric centers are more likely to have higher readmission rates if their site has higher rates of major complications and if their ED is less likely to treat and then discharge bariatric patients. Further examination of organizational characteristics of bariatric programs that affect postoperative readmissions, including ED practices, is needed to better guide future initiatives aimed at improving this quality metric.