Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

A ten-year retrospective study of unplanned hospital readmissions to a regional Australian hospital

Rick McLean, Kumara Mendis and Joe Canalese

Australian Health Review 32(3) 537 - 547
Published: 2008


Objective: To examine the trend in unplanned readmissions (URs) to Dubbo Base Hospital (DBH) over the period 1996-2005 and assess possible correlations with basic demographic data. Results: URs increased over the study period, both as a total number and as a proportion of total admissions (from 4.7 to 5.4%), while average length of stay decreased from 5.3 to 4.4 days and available hospital beds decreased from 156 to 116. The proportion of URs for people aged 75 years has more than doubled over the same period. There were clear temporal variations in URs (greatest number occurring on Fridays and in late winter/early spring) and variations with age and gender (greatest number in young males; peaks for males in 0-10 and 71-80-year deciles and for females in 0-10, 21-30 and 71-80 year deciles). Fifty percent of URs occurred within 7 days of discharge. There was a statistically significant but small correlation between length of prior admission and time to readmission (Spearman correlation coefficient, 0.068; P < 0.01) although the time to readmission did not change over the study period. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3.8%), complications of procedures (3.6%), heart failure and pneumonia (each 2.2%), angina (2.1%) and acute bronchiolitis (1.8%) were the top causes of URs. Conclusion: URs are becoming more frequent in DBH; analysis of associations and trends over time are the first step in determining targeted measures to address the problem.

© AHHA 2008

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