A new report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) shows that in 2008, 2208 patients in Pennsylvania who had coronary artery bypass surgery and/or heart valve surgery were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.
PHC4's Executive Director Joe Martin says that's one in six open heart surgery patients "this illustrates why the medical community, researchers and policymakers are focused on identifying the causes of readmissions and implementing evidence-based strategies to reduce those that are preventable."
Martin says that not all readmissions can be avoided even with optimal care, but they are a significant cost driver. The 2,208 readmissions resulted in an additional 11,065 hospital days and more than $81 million in additional hospital charges.
The report shows that patients who underwent valve and bypass surgery had a 21% readmission rate within 30 days compared to 17.8% of those who had valve surgery only and 14.6% of patients who had bypass surgery only.
Council spokeswoman Stephanie Suran says the main reason for readmission following open heart surgery is infection.
Suran says the mortality rate of open heart surgery patients edged up slightly from 1.75% to 1.9%. This small increase came after the mortality rate was nearly cut in half (46%) from 1994 to 2007.
Suran says in the Pittsburgh area, UPMC Presbyterian and Shadyside had higher than expected rate of deaths among heart surgery patients, but UPMC Mercy had mortality rates in the expected range. Suran says Allegheny General Hospital had a higher than expected mortality rate 30 days and longer after bypass surgery, but lower than expected rates after 7 days.