Number of the Day: 17 percent

October 11, 2011 | Number of The Day

New Jersey has the second-highest rate in the country of hospital readmission of Medicare patents after surgery, according to the Dartmouth Atlas, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that looks at health system disparities across the country. In the Garden State, 17 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days of their discharge after a stay to treat an acute or chronic illness. Only West Virginia, with a rate of 17.3 percent, has a higher.

Hospital readmission rates are seen as markers of local healthcare systems’ ability to coordinate care for patients across the full continuum of settings — hospitals, rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and clinician offices, according to the report. Readmissions are often a sign of inadequate discharge planning and poor care coordination between hospital and community clinicians, as well as the lack of effective community-based care, it said.

These statistics not only imply that patients get sicker after a hospital stay but also they will also affect the cost of care in New Jersey. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the development of programs to reduce readmissions. Next year it will begin to penalize hospitals that fail to meet set readmission standards.