Clinical and financial impact of hospital readmissions after colorectal resection: Predictors, outcomes, and costs

Rachelle N. Damle*, Nicole B. Cherng, Julie M. Flahive, Jennifer S. Davids, Justin A. Maykel, Paul R. Sturrock, W. Brian Sweeney, Karim Alavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: After passage of the Affordable Care Act, 30- day hospital readmissions have come under greater scrutiny. Excess readmissions for certain medical conditions and procedures now result in penalizations on all Medicare reimbursements. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this work was to define the risk factors, outcomes, and costs of 30-day readmissions after colorectal surgery. DESIGN: Adults undergoing colorectal surgery were studied using data from the University HealthSystem Consortium. Univariate and multivariable analyses were used to identify patient-related risk factors for, and 30- day outcomes of, readmission after colorectal surgery. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at an academic hospital and its affiliates. PATIENTS: Adults ≥18 years of age who underwent colorectal surgery for cancer, diverticular disease, IBD, or benign tumors between 2008 and 2011 were included in this study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Readmission within 30 days of index discharge was the main outcome measured. RESULTS: A total of 70,484 patients survived the index hospitalization after colorectal surgery; 9632 (13.7%) were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. The strongest independent predictors of readmission were length of stay ≥4 days (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.32-1.57), stoma (OR 1.54; 95% CI 1.46-1.51), and discharge to skilled nursing (OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.49-1.76) or rehabilitation facility (OR 2.93; 95% CI 2.53-3.40). Of those readmitted, half of the readmissions occurred within 7 days, 13% required the intensive care unit, 6% had a reoperation, and 2% died during the readmission stay. The median combined total direct hospital cost was more than 2 times higher ($26,917 vs $13,817; p < 0.001) for readmitted than for nonreadmitted patients. LIMITATIONS: Follow-up was limited to 30 days after initial discharge. CONCLUSIONS: Readmissions after colorectal resection occur frequently and incur a significant financial burden on the health-care system. Future studies aimed at targeted interventions for high-risk patients may reduce readmissions and curb escalating health-care costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1421-1429
Number of pages9
JournalDiseases of the Colon and Rectum
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Cost analysis
  • Outcomes research
  • Readmissions


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