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Keywords:

  • stroke;
  • patient discharge;
  • survival;
  • health insurance reimbursement;
  • patient readmission

OBJECTIVES: To examine 1-year mortality and healthcare payments of stroke patients experiencing zero, one and two or more bounce-backs within 30 days of discharge.

DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of administrative data.

SETTING: Four hundred twenty-two hospitals in the southern and eastern United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Eleven thousand seven hundred twenty-nine Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older surviving at least 30 days with acute ischemic stroke in 2000.

MEASUREMENTS: One-year mortality and predicted total healthcare payments were calculated using log-normal parametric survival analysis and quantile regression, respectively. Models included sociodemographics, prior medical history, stroke severity, length of stay, and discharge site.

RESULTS: Crude survival at 1 year for the zero, one and two or more bounce-back groups was 83%, 67%, and 55%, respectively. The one bounce-back group had 49% shorter (time ratio (TR)=0.51, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.46–0.56) and the two or more bounce-backs group had 68% shorter (TR=0.32, 95% CI=0.27–0.38) adjusted 1-year survival time than the zero bounce-back group. For high- and low-cost patients, adjusted predicted payments were greater with each additional bounce-back experienced.

CONCLUSION: Acute stroke patients experiencing bounce-backs within 30 days have strikingly poorer survival and higher healthcare payments over the subsequent year than their counterparts with no bounce-backs. Bounce-backs may serve as a simple predictor for identifying stroke patients at extremely high risk for poor outcomes.