Brief Reports

Interhospital Transfer and Receipt of Specialty Procedures


The practice of transferring patients between acute care hospitals is variable and largely nonstandardized. Although often-cited reasons for transfer include providing patients access to specialty services only available at the receiving institution, little is known about whether and when patients receive such specialty care during the transfer continuum. We performed a retrospective analysis using 2013 100% Master Beneficiary Summary and Inpatient claims files from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Beneficiaries were included if they were aged ≥65 years, continuously enrolled in Medicare A and B, with an acute care hospitalization claim, and transferred to another acute care hospital with a primary diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, gastrointestinal bleed, renal failure, or hip fracture/dislocation. Associated specialty procedure codes (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification) were identified for each diagnosis. We performed descriptive analyses to compare receipt of specialty procedural services between transferring and receiving hospitals, stratified by diagnosis. Across the 19,613 included beneficiaries, receipt of associated specialty procedures was more common at the receiving than the transferring hospital, with the exception of patients with a diagnosis of gastrointestinal bleed. Depending on primary diagnosis, between 32.4% and 89.1% of patients did not receive any associated specialty procedure at the receiving hospital. Our results demonstrate variable receipt of specialty procedural care across the transfer continuum, implying the likelihood of alternate drivers of interhospital transfer other than solely receipt of specialty procedural care.

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