Family consultation to reduce early hospital readmissions among patients with end stage kidney disease: A randomized controlled trial

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Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology


Background and objectives The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have mandated reducing early (30-day) hospital readmissions to improve patient care and reduce costs. Patients with ESKD have elevated early readmission rates, due in part to complex medical regimens but also cognitive impairment, literacy difficulties, low social support, and mood problems. We developed a brief family consultation intervention to address these risk factors and tested whether it would reduce early readmissions. Design, setting, participants, & measurements One hundred twenty hospitalized adults with ESKD (mean age=58 years; 50% men; 86% black, 14% white) were recruited from an urban, inpatient nephrology unit. Patients were randomized to the family consultation (n=60) or treatment-as-usual control (n=60) condition. Family consultations, conducted before discharge at bedside or via telephone, educated the family about the patient’s cognitive and behavioral risk factors for readmission, particularly cognitive impairment, and how to compensate for them. Blinded medical record reviews were conducted 30 days later to determine readmission status (primary outcome) and any hospital return visit (readmission, emergency department, or observation; secondary outcome). Logistic regressions tested the effects of the consultation versus control on these outcomes. Results Primary analyses were intent-to-treat. The risk of a 30-day readmission after family consultation (n=12, 20%) was 0.54 compared with treatment-as-usual controls (n=19, 32%), although this effect was not statistically significant (odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.23 to 1.24; P=0.15). A similar magnitude, nonsignificant result was observed for any 30-day hospital return visit: family consultation (n=19, 32%) versus controls (n=28, 47%; odds ratio, 0.53; 95% confidence interval, 0.25 to 1.1; P=0.09). Per protocol analyses (excluding three patients who did not receive the assigned consultation) revealed similar results. Conclusions A brief consultation with family members about the patient’s cognitive and psychosocial risk factors had no significant effect on 30-day hospital readmission in patients with ESKD.

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