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The readmission rate following a hospital stay for a chronic condition such as congestive heart failure or diabetes can be substantially higher than for an acute condition like pneumonia or a heart attack, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The Federal agency's analysis of 30-day hospital readmissions in 2008 found that:

  • Among patients age 65 and older covered by Medicare, the readmission rate following a nonsurgical hospitalization was higher for chronic conditions (23 percent) than for acute conditions (19 percent).
  • For adults age 18 to 44 covered by Medicaid, the readmission rate following a nonsurgical hospitalization was about one-third higher for chronic conditions (26 percent) than for acute conditions (19 percent).
  • The 30-day readmission rate was higher for a nonsurgical hospitalization (1 in 5) compared with a surgical hospitalization (1 in 8).

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