OBJECTIVE: To investigate risk-adjusted, 30-day postdischarge heart failure mortality and readmission rates stratified by hospital teaching intensity.
DATA SOURCES AND STUDY SETTING: A total of 709 221 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries discharged from 3135 US hospitals between 1/1/2013 and 11/30/2014 with a principal diagnosis of heart failure.
STUDY DESIGN: Hospitals were classified as Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems (COTH) major teaching hospitals, non-COTH teaching hospitals, and nonteaching hospitals. Hospital teaching status was linked with MedPAR patient data and FY2016 Hospital Readmission Reduction Program penalties. Index hospitalization survival probabilities were estimated with hierarchical logistic regression and used to stratify index hospitalization survivors into severity deciles. Decile-specific models were estimated for 30-day postdischarge readmission and mortality. Thirty-day postdischarge outcomes were estimated by teaching intensity and penalty categories.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Averaged across deciles, adjusted 30-day COTH hospital readmission rates were, on a relative scale ([COTH minus nonteaching] ÷ nonteaching), 1.63 percent higher (95% CI: 0.89 percent, 2.25 percent) than at nonteaching hospitals, but their average adjusted 30-day postdischarge mortality rates were 11.55 percent lower (95% CI: -13.78 percent, -9.37 percent). Penalized COTH hospitals had the highest readmission rates of all categories (23.99 percent [95% CI: 23.50 percent, 24.49 percent]) but the lowest 30-day postdischarge mortality (8.30 percent [95% CI: 7.99 percent, 8.57 percent] vs 9.84 percent [95% CI: 9.69 percent, 9.99 percent] for nonpenalized, nonteaching hospitals).
CONCLUSIONS: Heart failure readmission penalties disproportionately impact major teaching hospitals and inadequately credit their better postdischarge survival.