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.