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Restarting the Cycle: Incidence and Predictors of First Acute Care Use After Nursing Home Discharge




To describe the time to first acute care use (e.g., emergency department (ED) use without hospitalization or rehospitalization) for older adults discharged to home after receiving postacute care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs); to identify predictors of first acute care use.


Retrospective cohort study using administrative claims data.


SNFs providing postacute care for patients in North and South Carolina (N = 1,474).


A cohort of Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older (N = 55,980) who were hospitalized and then transferred to a SNF for postacute care and subsequently discharged home (January 1, 2010, to August 31, 2011).


Medicare institutional claims data (Parts A and B) and Medicare enrollment data were used; facility-level variables were obtained from CMS Nursing Home Compare. Survival from SNF discharge to first acute care use was explored. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to describe individual-, home care–, and nursing facility–level predictors.


After discharge from SNF to home, 22.1% of older adults had an episode of acute care use within 30 days, including 7.2% with an ED visit without hospitalization and 14.8% with a rehospitalization; 37.5% of older adults had their first acute care use within 90 days. Male sex, dual eligibility status, higher Charlson comorbidity score, certain primary diagnoses at index hospitalization (neoplasms and respiratory disease), and care in SNFs with for-profit ownership or fewer licensed practical nurses hours per patient-day were associated with greater likelihood of acute care use.


Medicare beneficiaries have a high use of acute care services after discharge from SNFs, and several factors associated with acute care use are potentially modifiable. Findings suggest the need for interventions to support beneficiaries as they transition from SNFs to home.