Background — Early readmission to hospital after surgery is an omnipresent quality metric across surgical fields. We sought to understand the relative importance of hospital readmission among all health services received after hospital discharge.
Objective — The aim of this study was to characterize 30-day postdischarge cost and risk of an emergency department (ED) visit, readmission, or death after hospitalization for elective major vascular surgery.
Methods — This is a population-based retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent elective major vascular surgery - carotid endarterectomy, EVAR, open AAA repair, bypass for lower extremity peripheral arterial disease - in Ontario, Canada, between 2004 and 2015. The outcomes of interest included quality metrics - ED visit, readmission, death - and cost to the Ministry of Health, within 30 days of discharge. Costs after discharge included those attributable to hospital readmission, ED visits, rehab, physician billing, outpatient nursing and allied health care, medications, interventions, and tests. Multivariable regression models characterized the association of pre-discharge characteristics with the above-mentioned postdischarge quality metrics and cost.
Results — A total of 30,752 patients were identified. Within 30 days of discharge, 2588 (8.4%) patients were readmitted to hospital and 13 patients died (0.04%). Another 4145 (13.5%) patients visited an ED without requiring admission. Across all patients, over half of 30-day postdischarge costs were attributable to outpatient care. Patients at an increased risk of an ED visit, readmission, or death within 30 days of discharge differed from those patients with relatively higher 30-day costs.
Conclusion — Events occurring outside the hospital setting should be integral to the evaluation of quality of care and cost after hospitalization for major vascular surgery.