Hospital readmissions within 30 days rise by a fifth

The number of patients experiencing an emergency readmission to hospital within 30 days of previously leaving hospital has risen by a fifth in seven years, health experts have warned.

Emergency readmissions to hospital for potentially preventable conditions such as pneumonia and pressure sores have also gone up by two fifths in the last seven years, analysis from the Nuffield Trust think tank also shows.

It found a 19% rise in patients being readmitted to hospital in an emergency within 30 days of discharge between 2010/11 and 2016/17.

Within this, it identified a 41.3% rise in emergency readmissions for conditions classed as potentially preventable, which patients were not diagnosed with when they were first admitted to hospital.

The new briefing from QualityWatch, a research programme from the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation, aims to highlight where improved quality of care in hospital or the community might have prevented readmission.

It said the findings should raise questions about the quality of care that elderly patients are receiving during their hospital stay, how they are discharged from hospital and the quality of community and social care services.

The figures showed patients readmitted to hospital in an emergency with pneumonia increased by nearly three quarters (72.5%) between 2010/11 and 2016/17, while they almost trebled for pressure sores from 7,787 to 22,448.

Director of research at the Nuffield Trust, Professor John Appleby said: "Unnecessary trips and overnight stays in hospital put a strain on elderly patients and their families.

"That is why it's concerning that our research shows the number of people being readmitted to hospital within 30 days with potentially preventable conditions is greater than it was seven years ago."

Briefing author Jessica Morris, research analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said: "Emergency readmissions to hospital, for conditions that were not diagnosed during their first visit, are potentially a warning sign that a patient's quality of care may have been compromised.

"The findings provide local health providers with a good opportunity to sit up and focus their attention and quality improvement initiatives on the three conditions where we've seen the most significant rise in readmissions."