Addressing Hospital Readmissions and Emergency Department Visits for COPD Patients
exacerbations are acute events in which disease symptoms become more severe than usual, including
shortness of breath from routine activities and excessive coughing. Patients experiencing
exacerbations typically a) visit the emergency department and may be admitted to the hospital and b)
are readmitted to the hospital shortly after discharge. Such service utilization is a hallmark
challenge of COPD management. Providers often examine rates of emergency department visits and
hospital readmissions among their COPD patients to determine how well the condition is controlled,
since well-maintained COPD typically does not flare up and require emergency services.
Due to the high cost of emergency department services and hospitalizations and the fact that COPD
exacerbations are typically preventable, many programs focus on preventing emergency department
visits and hospital (re)admissions. Such programs help patients maintain their COPD through wellness
practices and care management to prevent exacerbations. Patients should work with their healthcare
providers to create an action
plan as a method of self-managing COPD. Action plans may include directions for taking emergency
antibiotics and steroids, or "rescue packs" that contain a five-day course that patients can start if they begin
to feel an exacerbation and are unable to get to a healthcare provider or hospital in a reasonable amount of
time. This is critical for rural patients, who may not be able to easily access a hospital. As such, efforts to
reduce emergency department visits and hospitalizations typically take place outside of the inpatient setting.
Resources to Learn More
Insights about the Economic Impact of COPD
Readmissions Post Implementation of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program
A review of the literature published between 2016 and 2017 discussing the direct and indirect financial savings
in COPD readmission costs after the implementation of CDC's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).
Author(s): Press, V, Konetzka, RT, & White, S.
Citation: Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 24(2), 138–146