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Patient Readmissions More Common in For-Profit Hospitals

Patients who receive care in a for-profit hospital are more likely to be readmitted than those who receive care in nonprofit or public hospitals, according to a new study published by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.

“It is remarkable to see such clear data in a study like this,” said Andrew Boyd, co-author of the study and associate professor of biomedical and health information sciences at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. “There is not a single category in which for-profit hospitals shined when it came to readmissions. This was unexpected. It was also surprising to see that the trend existed independent of geography.”

The study analyzed readmission data obtained from the national Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) from 2012 to 2015 for six major and common diseases. In each category, for-profit hospitals had the highest mean and median readmission ratios. Hospitals with fewer readmissions than expected, based on a government ratio accounting for disease severity, were primarily public and nonprofit.

While the study shows a correlation between hospital type and readmission rates, the data does not provide any clues as to why for-profit hospitals fare worse than nonprofit or public hospitals. Researchers speculate that the relative lack of resources at for-profit hospitals may be the cause.

“This study shows an important national trend to which policymakers, health care providers, researchers and patients should pay attention, especially in light of a changing health care landscape marked by discussions on reimbursement rates and network consolidations, which are occurring across all types of hospitals,” Boyd said.

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