Medication-Related Hospital Readmissions Within 30 Days of Discharge: Prevalence, Preventability, Type of Medication Errors and Risk Factors

Elien B. Uitvlugt, Marjo J. A. Janssen, Carl E. H. Siegert, Eva L. Kneepkens, Bart J. F. van den Bemt, Patricia M. L. A. van den Bemt, Fatma Karapinar-Carkit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Hospital readmission rates are increasingly used as a measure of healthcare quality. Medicines are the most common therapeutic intervention but estimating the contribution of adverse drug events as a cause of readmissions is difficult.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence and preventability of medication-related readmissions within 30 days after hospital discharge and to describe the risk factors, type of medication errors and types of medication involved in these preventable readmissions.

Design: A cross-sectional observational study.

Setting: The study took place across the cardiology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, pulmonology and general surgery departments in the OLVG teaching hospital, Netherlands.

Participants: Patients with an unplanned readmission within 30 days after discharge from an earlier hospitalization (index hospitalization: IH) were reviewed.

Measurements: The prevalence and preventability of medication-related readmissions were assessed by residents in multidisciplinary meetings. A senior internist and hospital pharmacist reassessed the prevalence and preventability of identified cases. Generalized estimating equation with logistic regression was performed to identify risk factors of potentially preventable medication-related readmissions.

Results: Of 1,111 included readmissions, 181 (16%) were medication-related, of which 72 (40%) were potentially preventable. The number of medication changes at IH (Adjusted odds ratio [ORadj]: 1.14; 95% CI: 1.05-1.24) and having >= 3 hospitalizations 6 months before IH (ORadj: 2.11; 95% CI: 1.12-3.98) were risk factors of a preventable medication-related readmission. Of these preventable readmissions, 35% were due to prescribing errors, 35% by non-adherence and 30% by transition errors. Medications most frequently involved were diuretics and antidiabetics.

Conclusion: This study shows that 16% of readmissions are medication-related, of which 40% are potentially preventable. If the results are confirmed in larger multicentre studies, this may indicate that more attention should be paid to medication-related harm in order to lower the overall readmission rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number567424
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 13-Apr-2021


  • readmission
  • ADEs
  • quality of care
  • medication related problem
  • transitions in care

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