Penalties for Readmissions Reduce Readmissions at New York Hospitals, but at the Cost of Increasing Attendance at Emergency Departments.

The CLAHRC WM Director is always concerned about possible perverse effects of incentives. Sure, do all you can to ensure a decent handover of care, but only a small proportion of readmissions are avoidable. Anyway, a recent difference in difference analysis in New York State [1] suggests that financial penalties, while reducing readmissions, were associated with a small but significantly increased rate of attendance at the Emergency Department. Again the law of unintended consequences.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. McGarry B, Blankley A, Li Y. The Impact of the Medicare Hospital Readmission Reduction Program in New York State. Med Care. 2016; 54(2): 162-71.

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