Unplanned transfers following admission to a long-term acute care hospital: a quality issue.
Chron Respir Dis. 2011;8(4):245-52
Authors: White AC, Joseph B, Perrotta BA, Grandfield J, Muraldihar N, O'Connor HH, Hendra K
The unplanned transfer of patients from long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) back to acute facilities disrupts the continuity of care, delays recovery and increases the cost of care. This study was performed to better understand the unplanned transfer of patients with pulmonary disease. A retrospective analysis of data obtained for quality management in a cohort of patients admitted to an LTACH system over a 3-year period. Of the 3506 patients admitted with a pulmonary diagnosis studied, 414 (12%) underwent 526 unplanned transfers back to an acute facility after a median LTACH length of stay (LOS) of 45 days. Mechanical ventilation via tracheostomy was used in 259 (63%) patients admitted to the LTACH with a pulmonary diagnosis. The commonest reasons for unplanned transfers included acute respiratory failure, cardiac decompensation, gastrointestinal bleed and possible sepsis. Over 50% of patients had LOS at the LTACH between 4 and 30 days prior to the unplanned transfer. Patients with an LOS <3 days prior to transfer were more likely to be transferred around the weekend. In all, 32% of patients died within a median of 7 days of transfer back to the acute facility. Thirty-day mortality following unplanned transfer appeared independent of organ system involved, attending physician specialty/coverage status, nursing shift or transferring LTACH unit. Unplanned transfers disrupting continuity of care remain a significant problem in patients admitted to an LTACH with a pulmonary diagnosis and are associated with significant mortality. Strategies designed to reduce cardiopulmonary decompensation, gastrointestinal bleeding and possible sepsis in the LTACH along with additional strategies implemented throughout the health care continuum will be needed to reduce this problem.
PMID: 21990569 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]