As long-term care providers face looming pressures to avoid re-hospitalization under the Affordable Care Act, new research has found that over 40% of all return visits among severe sepsis patients are for diagnoses that could have been prevented.

Reporting in the March 10 issue of JAMA, researchers found patients are frequently re-hospitalized within 90 days after having severe sepsis. But 42% of those patients had “potentially preventable readmission diagnoses” that included pneumonia, hypertension, dehydration, asthma, urinary tract infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation, perforated appendix, diabetes, angina, congestive heart failure, sepsis, acute renal failure, skin or soft tissue infection, and aspiration pneumonitis.

“The investigators analyzed data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of households including adults aged at least 50 years, with linkage to Medicare claims from 1998 to 2010,” reported Medscape Medical News. “Hospitalizations for severe sepsis were matched with hospitalizations for other acute medical conditions on the basis of age, sex, post-discharge comorbidity, pre-hospitalization functional disability, and length of hospitalization.”

Researchers acknowledged that “little is known … about the reasons for readmission and whether they can be reduced.”

The purposes of the research was to determine the most common readmission diagnoses after hospitalization for severe sepsis, the extent to which readmissions may be potentially preventable by post-hospitalization ambulatory care, and whether the pattern of readmission diagnoses differs compared with that of other acute medical conditions, according to the JAMA abstract.