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Fever and hypothermia do not affect the all-cause 30-day hospital readmission

      Abstract

      Background

      One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to decrease hospital readmissions. While widely adhered to, there is no published research to support the practice of delaying discharge if patients exhibit fever or hypothermia in the preceding 24 h, which is the focus of our study.

      Methods

      Retrospective analysis of the minimal (Tmin) and maximal (Tmax) body temperatures collected during the last 24 h before discharge of 19,038 inpatients. Fever was defined as Tmax >99.5F (+1SD from the mean Tmax) or >100.2F (+2SDs), and hypothermia as Tmin <97.1F (-1SD from the mean Tmin) or <96.7F (-2SDs).

      Results

      The overall readmission rate was 10.2% (highest for General Medicine and Pediatrics). The rate of readmission was not different between normothermic patients and those with abnormal body temperature, except for higher readmission rate (12.2%) for patients with fever at 1SD from Tmax compared with normothermic patients (9.96%). Neither fever nor hypothermia was associated with shorter time to readmission, except for fever at 2 SDs from Tmax (10.6 days) compared with normothermic patients (12.6 days). Surprisingly, univariate analysis revealed that higher Tmax and older age were associated with lower readmission probability. Both uni- and multivariate analysis showed that the presence of fever is associated with lower readmission probability. Evaluating 200 individual cases, the most common explanation for body temperature abnormality was infection and 90% of the preventable readmissions were due to infection.

      Conclusions

      Abnormal body temperature 24 h prior to discharge was not useful for predicting the probability of readmission.

      Key Indexing Terms

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