Racial Disparities in Readmissions Following Initial Hospitalization for Sepsis

Bryan D. Lizza, Kevin D. Betthauser, Paul H. Juang, Nicholas B. Hampton, Patrick G. Lyons, Marin H. Kollef, Scott T. Micek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To assess whether Black race is associated with a higher rate of all-cause readmission compared with White race following community-onset sepsis. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: One-thousand three-hundred bed urban academic medical centers. PATIENTS: Three-thousand three-hundred ninety patients hospitalized with community-onset sepsis between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2017. INTERVENTIONS: Community-onset sepsis was defined as patients admitted through the emergency department with an International Classification of Disease, ninth revision, Clinical Modification code for either severe sepsis (995.92) or septic shock (785.52). Beginning in 2015, we used International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification codes R65.20 (severe sepsis) and R65.21 (septic shock). We excluded those individuals hospitalized at another acute care facility that were transferred to our facility. Race was abstracted electronically, and patients who expired or self-identified as a race other than Black or White race were excluded. Patients who experienced a subsequent hospitalization at our facility were considered to be readmitted. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Compared with White race, Black race demonstrated a significantly higher rate of all-cause readmission (60.8% vs 71.1%; p < 0.001), including a higher rate of readmission for sepsis (14.0% vs 19.8%; p < 0.001). Black patients also resided in zip codes with a lower median household income and were more likely to use public insurance compared with White race. Similar rates of comorbid diseases and disease burden were observed between the two groups, but vasopressors were less likely to be administered to Black patients. Multivariable analysis showed that Black race was associated with a 50% increased odds (odds ratio, 1.52, 99% CI, 1.25-1.84) in all-cause readmission risk compared with White race. CONCLUSIONS: Black race was associated with a higher rate of all-cause and sepsis readmission, possibly as a result of unaddressed health disparities, compared with White race. Programs addressing healthcare disparities should use readmission as another marker of equity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E258-E268
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • critical care
  • epidemiology
  • healthcare disparities
  • patient readmission
  • race factors
  • sepsis


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