Insights into the potential preventability of oncology readmissions

Barry R. Meisenberg, Elizabeth Hahn, Madelaine Binner, David Weng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose Hospital readmissions are often cited as a marker of poor quality of care. Limited data suggest some readmissions may be preventable depending upon definitions and available outpatient support. Methods General criteria to define preventable and not preventable admissions were developed before data collection began. The records of sequential nonsurgical oncology readmissions were reviewed independently by two reviewers. When the reviewers disagreed about assigning admissions as preventable or not preventable, a third reviewer was the tie breaker. The reasons for assigning admissions as preventable or not preventable were analyzed. Results Seventy-two readmissions occurring among 69 patients were analyzed. The first two reviewers agreed that 18 (25%) of 72 were preventable and that 29 (40%) of 72 were not. A third reviewer found four of the split 25 cases to be preventable; therefore, the consensus preventability rate was 22 (31%) of 72. The most common causes of preventability were overwhelming symptoms in patients who qualified for hospice but were not participating in hospice and insufficient communication between patients and the care team about symptom burden. The most common reason for assignment of a not preventable admission was a high symptom burden among patients without strong indications for hospice or for whom aggressive outpatient management was inadequate. The median survival after readmission was 72 days. Conclusion A substantial proportion of oncology readmissions could be prevented with better anticipation of symptoms in high-risk ambulatory patients and enhanced communication about symptom burden between patients and physicians before an escalation that leads to an emergency department visit. Managing symptoms in patients who are appropriate for hospice is challenging. Readmission is a marker of poor prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e149-e156
JournalJournal of oncology practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Insights into the potential preventability of oncology readmissions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this