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Invited Commentary
April 2015

Patients’ Functional Status and Hospital Readmissions: Remembering What Matters

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):565-566. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7759

In this issue, a study by Greysen et al1 provides new insight into the consequences of functional impairment for Medicare beneficiaries after a hospital admission. Linking data from the Health and Retirement Study (a nationally representative cohort of seniors living in communities) and Medicare claims, the authors find that as a patient’s degree of functional impairment increases, so does the risk that he or she will be readmitted after discharge. It is well known that functional impairment is associated with an increased risk of admission to a nursing home and of death within 1 year.2,3 The study by Greysen et al suggests that impaired functional status should also be a target of interventions to reduce hospital readmissions.

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