COPD patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility are twice as likely to die within a year

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People who go to a skilled nursing facility after being hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are about twice as likely to die within a year, according to recently released findings.

The probability of death within 180 days was nearly 34% for COPD patients discharged to a SNF, versus roughly 16% for those who were sent home, the investigators determined. These numbers were 46.5% and 24%, respectively, at a year after hospital discharge. These statistics are for patients hospitalized with a diagnosis-related group code of 190, but DRGs of 191 and 192 had similarly high rates.

Patients who go to a SNF likely have more severe COPD, multiple chronic conditions and poorer overall physical functioning, the study authors acknowledged. Still, the findings suggest that more robust interventions might improve the mortality of this group, they wrote. Further research could determine which patients are likely to benefit from more intensive management and which might be candidates for hospice and palliative care.

The investigators analyzed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data for about 500,000 patients in Ohio during 2008 and 2009. They are affiliated with not-for-profit hospital group OhioHealth, and presented their findings last week.