Discharge hospice referral and lower 30-day all-cause readmission in medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for heart failure

Raya E. Kheirbek, Ross D. Fletcher, Marie A. Bakitas, Gregg C. Fonarow, Sridivya Parvataneni, Donna Bearden, Frank A. Bailey, Charity J. Morgan, Steven Singh, Marc R. Blackman, Michael R. Zile, Kanan Patel, Momanna B. Ahmed, Rodney O. Tucker, Cynthia J. Brown, Thomas E. Love, Wilbert S. Aronow, Jeffrey M. Roseman, Michael W. Rich, Richard M. AllmanAli Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background-Heart failure (HF) is the leading cause for hospital readmission. Hospice care may help palliate HF symptoms but its association with 30-day all-cause readmission remains unknown. Methods and Results-Of the 8032 Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for HF in 106 Alabama hospitals (1998-2001), 182 (2%) received discharge hospice referrals. Of the 7850 patients not receiving hospice referrals, 1608 (20%) died within 6 months post discharge (the hospice-eligible group). Propensity scores for hospice referral were estimated for each of the 1790 (182+1608) patients and were used to match 179 hospice-referral patients with 179 hospice-eligible patients who were balanced on 28 baseline characteristics (mean age, 79 years; 58% women; 18% non-white). Overall, 22% (1742/8032) died in 6 months, of whom 8% (134/1742) received hospice referrals. Among the 358 matched patients, 30-day all-cause readmission occurred in 5% and 41% of hospice-referral and hospice-eligible patients, respectively (hazard ratio associated with hospice referral, 0.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.06-0.24). Hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for 30-day all-cause readmission associated with hospice referral among the 126 patients who died and 232 patients who survived 30-day post discharge were 0.03 (0.04-0.21) and 0.17 (0.08-0.36), respectively. Although 30-day mortality was higher in the hospice referral group (43% versus 27%), it was similar at 90 days (64% versus 67% among hospice-eligible patients). Conclusions-A discharge hospice referral was associated with lower 30-day all-cause readmission among hospitalized patients with HF. However, most patients with HF who died within 6 months of hospital discharge did not receive a discharge hospice referral.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-740
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation: Heart Failure
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Heart failure
  • Hospice
  • Medicare
  • readmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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