A recent study found that oncology-related readmissions at a hospital were fairly common and that many of these readmissions were preventable. The study’s results were reported in JCO Oncology Practice.

“This is the first study to our knowledge to describe preventable and nonpreventable factors contributing to oncologic readmissions at an urban safety net hospital,” the researchers wrote in their report.

The study was a retrospective chart review of patients treated at a hematology and oncology inpatient service at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Patients in this analysis had been discharged between October 2018 and March 2019, and records were queried to identify cases involving patients readmitted within a 30-day period following discharge.

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A total of 203 patients had been discharged during the 6-month study period, reflecting a total of 291 encounters. Of these encounters, 80 involved readmissions in the 30-day period following discharge, which reflected 30.0% (61) of the total patients. Nearly one-third (31.1%) of these 61 readmitted patients had more than 1 readmission during the 30-day period.

A total of 25 (31.3%) readmissions were considered to be potentially avoidable. The most common reason for potentially avoidable readmissions was an accumulation of ascitic/pleural fluid. Other reasons included drain or tube mismanagement, medication adherence, port or line infections, and missed appointments.

Most (68.7%) readmissions were unavoidable. These often involved treatment-related complications (36.4%) or disease progression (30.9%).

The researchers presented 2 possible solutions to reduce avoidable readmissions: perform large-volume paracentesis in the outpatient setting and increase utilization of indwelling peritoneal catheters.


Gupta VK, Dennis M, Mann E, Jacobson JO, Ko NY. Identifying actionable causes of potentially avoidable readmissions to an oncology service at a safety net hospital. JCO Oncol Pract. Published online December 8, 2020. doi:10.1200/OP.20.00593