Background Postacute care (PAC) is a major driver of the rising health care costs in the United States (US). There is limited evidence on the causal effect of skilled nursing facility (SNF) use on readmission after an inpatient colectomy. Study design We performed a retrospective analysis of data from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) on 38,635 patients who underwent an inpatient colectomy between 2011 and 2014 in a Pennsylvania hospital. Using propensity scores, we matched patients who were discharged to a SNF to those who were discharged elsewhere. We compared the probability of readmissions within 30 days for the two groups of matched patients in a regression framework. For the subset of patients who were readmitted within 30 days, we assessed whether patients discharged to SNF were readmitted earlier than those discharged to other entities. Results The use of a SNF after a colectomy significantly raises the patients’ chance of readmissions within 30 days, even after controlling for their demographic characteristics and illness severity. Based on our estimates, being discharged to a SNF raises the chance of a readmission by 7.7 percentage points. For patients who were admitted within 30 days, we find no association between discharge to a SNF and the timing of readmission. Conclusion Sending less severe patients to facilities other than a SNF following inpatient colectomy may help hospitals reduce 30-day readmission rates.
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