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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
December 22/29, 2020

Hospital Readmission Is Common Among COVID-19 Survivors

JAMA. 2020;324(24):2477. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.23910

Nearly 1 in 10 patients who were discharged after receiving inpatient care for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) earlier this year were readmitted within 2 months, according to a recent study.

To help fill the knowledge gap about posthospitalization COVID-19 outcomes, CDC investigators analyzed hospital records and administrative data for 126 137 patients with COVID-19 who were admitted between March and July. They found that 15% of the patients died during their initial hospitalization. Among survivors, 9% were readmitted to the same hospital within 2 months of discharge and 1.6% were readmitted more than once. Fifteen percent of patients discharged to nursing home care were readmitted to a hospital, as were 12% who were discharged to home health care and 7% who didn’t need professional care at home. Fewer than 0.1% of readmitted patients died. Diseases of the circulatory, respiratory, or digestive systems were readmitted patients’ most common discharge diagnoses.

Having preexisting pulmonary disease, heart failure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease increased patients’ odds of readmission. Patients discharged to home-based or self-care were less likely to be readmitted, but two-thirds of those who were had 1 or more of those chronic conditions. Although Black and Hispanic patients were overrepresented among the hospitalized patients, they were less likely than White patients to be readmitted.

The data add new urgency to the need to curb surging US COVID-19 infections—particularly among high-risk populations—as hospitals across the country become overwhelmed. The findings may also help physicians determine the best discharge plans for inpatients.

“Continued public health messaging and interventions to prevent COVID-19 among older persons and those with underlying medical conditions is essential,” the authors wrote.