Identifying Patients at Increased Risk for Unplanned Readmission

Document Type




Format of Original

6 p.

Publication Date



Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

Source Publication

Medical Care

Source ISSN



Background: Reducing readmissions is a national priority, but many hospitals lack practical tools to identify patients at increased risk of unplanned readmission.

Objective: To estimate the association between a composite measure of patient condition at discharge, the Rothman Index (RI), and unplanned readmission within 30 days of discharge.

Subjects: Adult medical and surgical patients in a major teaching hospital in 2011.

Measures: The RI is a composite measure updated regularly from the electronic medical record based on changes in vital signs, nursing assessments, Braden score, cardiac rhythms, and laboratory test results. We developed 4 categories of RI and tested its association with readmission within 30 days, using logistic regression, adjusted for patient age, sex, insurance status, service assignment (medical or surgical), and primary discharge diagnosis.

Results: Sixteen percent of the sample patients (N=2730) had an unplanned readmission within 30 days of discharge. The risk of readmission for a patient in the highest risk category (RI<70) was >1 in 5 while the risk of readmission for patients in the lowest risk category was about 1 in 10. In multivariable analysis, patients with an RI<70 (the highest risk category) or 70-79 (medium risk category) had 2.65 (95% confidence interval, 1.72-4.07) and 2.40 (95% confidence interval, 1.57-3.67) times higher odds of unplanned readmission, respectively, compared with patients in the lowest risk category.

Conclusion: Clinicians can use the RI to help target hospital programs and supports to patients at highest risk of readmission.


Medical Care, Vol. 51, No. 9 (September 2013): 761-766. DOI.