Original Research1 May 2018
Author, Article, and Disclosure Information


This article has been corrected. The original version (PDF) is appended to this article as a Supplement.


Many experts believe that hospitals with more frequent readmissions provide lower-quality care, but little is known about how the preventability of readmissions might change over the postdischarge time frame.


To determine whether readmissions within 7 days of discharge differ from those between 8 and 30 days after discharge with respect to preventability.


Prospective cohort study.


10 academic medical centers in the United States.


822 adults readmitted to a general medicine service.


For each readmission, 2 site-specific physician adjudicators used a structured survey instrument to determine whether it was preventable and measured other characteristics.


Overall, 36.2% of early readmissions versus 23.0% of late readmissions were preventable (median risk difference, 13.0 percentage points [interquartile range, 5.5 to 26.4 percentage points]). Hospitals were identified as better locations for preventing early readmissions (47.2% vs. 25.5%; median risk difference, 22.8 percentage points [interquartile range, 17.9 to 31.8 percentage points]), whereas outpatient clinics (15.2% vs. 6.6%; median risk difference, 10.0 percentage points [interquartile range, 4.6 to 12.2 percentage points]) and home (19.4% vs. 14.0%; median risk difference, 5.6 percentage points [interquartile range, −6.1 to 17.1 percentage points]) were better for preventing late readmissions.


Physician adjudicators were not blinded to readmission timing, community hospitals were not included in the study, and readmissions to nonstudy hospitals were not included in the results.


Early readmissions were more likely to be preventable and amenable to hospital-based interventions. Late readmissions were less likely to be preventable and were more amenable to ambulatory and home-based interventions.

Primary Funding Source:

Association of American Medical Colleges.


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