Have hospital readmissions increased in the face of reductions in length of stay? Evidence from England

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We assess the relationship between changes in hospital length of stay (LoS) and hospital quality, as measured by 28-day emergency readmission. We estimate regression models to analyse LoS and other factors associated with readmission for all those admitted for hip replacement (n = 496,334), hernia repair (n = 413,712) or following a stroke (n = 480,113) in England between 2002/3 and 2007/8. There were reductions in LoS over time while changes in crude readmission rates varied by condition. Given the high mortality rate for stroke, it is critical to account for the probability of surviving the initial admission when evaluating readmissions. Conditional upon survival, the probability of readmission was greater for stroke patients who originally had a shorter LoS and for hernia patients who had an overnight stay but there is no relationship between LoS and readmission for patients who had hip replacement. The evidence does not generally suggest that reductions in LoS were associated with an increased probability of emergency readmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number1
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • English hospitals
  • Quicker and sicker
  • In-hospital mortality
  • Readmissions
  • Length of stay

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