Nearly a quarter of all heart failure patients experiencing shorter stays in skilled nursing facilities are readmitted to hospitals within 30 days, researchers have found.

New York University School of Medicine investigators discovered that hospital readmission risks could be up to four times higher for patients discharged from a skilled care setting in two days or less. The early readmission risk dropped by half among residents who remained in skilled care for one-to-two weeks. This study is the first detailed analysis of national readmission rates and risk factors among skilled care patients returning home.

Investigators suggested longer-stay patients had better outcomes because of the added rehab time, with extra hours to practice new exercise regimen, manage medications and figure out their diets.

The study did not pinpoint the severity of heart failure patients’ conditions, one possible limitation of the findings.

“Part of the battle is patient education. Patients need reinforced and clear messaging about taking their medications, weighing themselves daily, and other key steps to help prevent them from being readmitted to the hospital,” study lead investigator and hospitalist Himali Weerahandi, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine and population health at NYU Langone Health, said in an announcement.