DOI: 10.1111/imj.16324 ISSN: 1444-0903

Causes for 30‐day readmissions and accuracy of the LACE index in regional Victoria, Australia

Reinhardt Dreyer, James Gome
  • Internal Medicine



Clinicians and funders continue to search for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality of care. Ongoing research should focus on innovative care models that identify patients at high‐risk for hospitalisation and thereby reduce healthcare costs.

Aims and Objectives

This study examined readmission rates, comorbidity profiles and the performance of the LACEi (Length of stay, Acuity of admission, Charlson Comorbidity Index, ED admissions in the previous 6 months index) to predict the risk of 30‐day readmissions in a regional population. Furthermore, we tested a novel clinician‐orientated classification for the causes of 30‐day readmissions.


Using a nested case–control design, data were extracted from administrative health records using 30‐day readmission status as the outcome. We defined cases as discharges within 30 days before readmission and controls without a discharge within 30 days before admission between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2022.


The study was conducted at South West Healthcare in Victoria, Australia.


All adult medical patients were discharged alive from the facility. We excluded planned readmissions, surgical and obstetric admissions, dialysis, transfers to alternative facilities and discharges against medical advice.

Main Outcome Measures

Thirty‐day readmission rate, comorbidity profile for all admissions, LACEi for all admissions, the performance of the LACEi in our setting and the causes leading to readmission using a clinician‐orientated classification tool.


Comorbidity burden, male sex and age > 65 years were associated with increased readmission risk but not length of stay. The LACEi demonstrated modest predictive ability to identify high‐risk patients for readmissions (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.59). Additional variables were needed to increase accuracy. The novel classification identified 42% of readmissions as potentially avoidable.


Our study identified comorbidity burden, male sex and age ≥ 65 years as critical indicators for readmission risk. Although the LACEi showed moderate predictive ability, additional variables were needed for increased accuracy. Over 40% of readmissions were potentially avoidable, and nearly two thirds occurred within 14 days of discharge from the hospital.

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