Background: Hospital readmission occurs often and is difficult to predict. Polypharmacy has been identified as a potential risk factor for hospital readmission. However, the overall impact of the number of discharge medications on hospital readmission is still undefined. Methods: To determine whether the number of discharge medications is predictive of thirty-day readmission using a retrospective cohort study design performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital from January 15, 2013 to May 9, 2013. The primary outcome assessed was thirty-day hospital readmission. We also assessed potential predictors of thirty-day readmission to include the number of discharge medications. Results: The final cohort had 5507 patients of which 1147 (20.8 %) were readmitted within thirty days of their hospital discharge date. The number of discharge medications was significantly greater for patients having a thirty-day readmission compared to those without a thirty-day readmission (7.2 ± 4.1 medications [7.0 medications (4.0 medications, 10.0 medications)] versus 6.0 ± 3.9 medications [6.0 medications (3.0 medications, 9.0 medications)]; P < 0.001). There was a statistically significant association between increasing numbers of discharge medications and the prevalence of thirty-day hospital readmission (P < 0.001). Multiple logistic regression identified more than six discharge medications to be independently associated with thirty-day readmission (OR, 1.26; 95 % CI, 1.17-1.36; P = 0.003). Other independent predictors of thirty-day readmission were: more than one emergency department visit in the previous six months, a minimum hemoglobin value less than or equal to 9 g/dL, presence of congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, cirrhosis, and metastatic cancer. A risk score for thirty-day readmission derived from the logistic regression model had good predictive accuracy (AUROC = 0.661 [95 % CI, 0.643-0.679]). Conclusions: The number of discharge medications is associated with the prevalence of thirty-day hospital readmission. A risk score, that includes the number of discharge medications, accurately predicts patients at risk for thirty-day readmission. Our findings suggest that relatively simple and accessible parameters can identify patients at high risk for hospital readmission potentially distinguishing such individuals for interventions to minimize readmissions.
- Discharge medications