Skipping Meds Sends Patients Back to Hospitals

Jun 7, 2012
After being discharged from the hospital, COPD and CHF patients who don't take their medicine are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one month.
  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease
  • Respiratory Conditions

After being discharged from the hospital, patients who do not adhere to their medication therapy are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one month.

In a new study Express Scripts released at this week’s International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) conference, we examined the relationship between post-hospitalization medication adherence and hospital readmissions for patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

For both CHF and COPD, only 3% of patients who filled a disease-related prescription after being discharged had to be readmitted into the hospital within 30 days. However, among the patients who did not fill a post-discharge prescription, readmission rates jumped to 6% for COPD patients and 20% for CHF patients.

For the study, we looked at records for more than 12,000 CHF patients and 15,000 COPD patients, all commercially insured and between the ages 18 and 64. Post-hospitalization adherence was determined based on disease-related medication claims. Although hospital readmissions are influenced by a variety of factors, the findings of this study support the hypothesis that therapy adherence plays a significant role.

Additional research has shown that patients who are adherent to their therapy for high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol have a 50% lower risk of visiting the hospital than demographically similar nonadherent patients. Up to half of cardiovascular hospital admissions may be caused by nonadherence.

As published in the Express Scripts 2011 Drug Trend Report, treating avoidable complications resulting from medication nonadherence cost the U.S. healthcare system $317.4 billion last year. That’s more than what the nation spent treating diabetes, CHF and cancer combined.

Author Bio

Lab Staff
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