Can use of an administrative database improve accuracy of hospital-reported readmission rates?

James R. Edgerton, Morley A. Herbert, Baron L. Hamman, W. Steves Ring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Readmission rates after cardiac surgery are being used as a quality indicator; they are also being collected by Medicare and are tied to reimbursement. Accurate knowledge of readmission rates may be difficult to achieve because patients may be readmitted to different hospitals. In our area, 81 hospitals share administrative claims data; 28 of these hospitals (from 5 different hospital systems) do cardiac surgery and share Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) clinical data. We used these 2 sources to compare the readmissions data for accuracy. Methods: A total of 45,539 STS records from January 2008 to December 2016 were matched with the hospital billing data records. Using the index visit as the start date, the billing records were queried for any subsequent in-patient visits for that patient. The billing records included date of readmission and hospital of readmission data and were compared with the data captured in the STS record. Results: We found 1153 (2.5%) patients who had STS records that were marked “No” or “missing,” but there were billing records that showed a readmission. The reported STS readmission rate of 4796 (10.5%) underreported the readmission rate by 2.5 actual percentage points. The true rate should have been 13.0%. Actual readmission rate was 23.8% higher than reported by the clinical database. Approximately 36% of readmissions were to a hospital that was a part of a different hospital system. Conclusions: It is important to know accurate readmission rates for quality improvement processes and institutional financial planning. Matching patient records to an administrative database showed that the clinical database may fail to capture many readmissions. Combining data with an administrative database can enhance accuracy of reporting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2043-2047
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • accuracy of readmission
  • administrative database
  • clinical database
  • database
  • hospital reported
  • readmission
  • readmission after cardiac surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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