Risk of Hospital Readmission High Among Black and Hispanic Lupus Patients

First Posted: Aug 11, 2014 05:14 AM EDT

A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, reveals that one in every 6 patients of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged.

The risk of readmission is high among the black and Hispanic SLE patients as compared to the white ones.

The chronic inflammatory disease Lupus occurs when the body's immune system attacks body tissues and organs. Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissues. This affects various body systems like joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs.  This is also called the great imitator. 

According to the medical evidence, 25 percent of the SLE patients needed to be treated at the hospital each year that makes up to 140,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. Also, SLE has the 6th highest rate of readmission as compared to other conditions in the U.S., according to a 2010 study by Elixhauser et al.

"SLE patients have one of the highest hospital readmission rates compared to those with other chronic illnesses," explains Jinoos Yazdany, M.D., M.P.H. from the Division of Rheumatology at the University of California, San Francisco. "Our study is the first large-scale examination of early readmissions following hospitalization due to SLE."

In this study, the researchers examined 55,936 hospitalizations using the hospital discharge database that consists 85 percent of the U.S. hospitals. They analyzed 31,903 lupus patients who were readmitted between 2008-2009 from 5 different states that include California, Florida, New York, Utah and Washington. The analysis was of patients above 18 years of age. 

The data revealed that there were 17 percent readmissions into the hospitals within 30 days of discharge. The readmission was found among 4,916 individual SLE patients. Those who were readmitted were suffering from lupus nephritis, serositis and thrombocytopenia. Age was, however, inversely associated with readmission. Rates of readmission were low in New York and high Florida.

Dr. Yazdany concludes, "The significant geographic and hospital-level variation in readmission rates signals a need for quality improvement efforts in lupus."

The study was documented in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

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