Vaccination Reduces Incidence of Herpes Zoster in Community-Dwelling Adults Age 60 and Older
Clinical question: What is the impact of herpes zoster vaccination on the incidence of disease in older community-dwelling adults with and without chronic medical conditions?
Background: Live-attenuated vaccination was recently approved in older adults to reduce the incidence of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia. Vaccination practices and efficacy in a clinical setting among patients with varying comorbidities are unknown.
Study design: Retrospective cohort.
Setting: Single health plan in California.
Synopsis: Data were collected from 2007 to 2009 on 75,761 health-plan members who received the vaccine. The data were compared with unvaccinated, age-matched controls. Vaccine recipients were more likely to be white and female, with more outpatient visits and fewer chronic diseases.
A 55% percent reduction in the incidence of herpes zoster was found among recipients. Benefit was seen across all age groups and comorbidities. Incidence of herpes zoster increased as age increased, but the relative rate reduction with vaccination remained nearly constant, including among those older than 80. Patients with chronic diseases also had an increased baseline incidence of herpes zoster but a similar relative reduction with vaccination. The study was not designed to look at post-herpetic neuralgia or to assess severity or duration of symptoms in herpes zoster cases.
Bottom line: Vaccination for herpes zoster is indicated for all adults age 60 and older, including the oldest and most medically complicated, in whom vaccination is not contraindicated.
Citation: Tseng HF, Smith N, Harpaz R, Bialek SR, Sy LS, Jacobsen SJ. Herpes zoster vaccine in older adults and the risk of subsequent herpes zoster disease. JAMA. 2011; 305(2):160-166.
For-Profit Hospital Status Might Increase Risk of 30-Day Readmission to Different Hospitals
Clinical question: Are patients admitted to a for-profit hospital more likely to be readmitted to a different hospital if rehospitalized within 30 days?
Background: Thirty-day readmission occurs in 20% of hospitalized Medicare patients, with at least a quarter of rehospitalized patients admitted to a different hospital. Recent healthcare legislation proposes penalties to reduce readmission rates. This could provide unintended incentives for hospitals to divert patients at high risk for readmission to other hospitals.
Study design: Observational cohort study.
Setting: Hospitalized Medicare patients.
Synopsis: Analysis of a 5% sample of Medicare patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge over a 22-month period identified 74,564 patients who were rehospitalized in a facility different from their initial admission. For-profit status of the initial and subsequent hospital was identified. Twenty-eight percent of patients initially admitted to a for-profit hospital were readmitted to a different hospital within 30 days. By comparison, only 21% of patients initially admitted to a nonprofit hospital were readmitted to a different hospital (P<.001).
The most significant risk factors for readmission to a different hospital were admission to a lower-volume hospital (221% increased risk), disability (21% increased risk), admission to an academic hospital (18% increased risk), and admission to a for-profit hospital (17% increased risk). Thirty-day mortality did not differ between patients readmitted to the same or different hospital, regardless of for-profit status. Admission to a different hospital was associated with increased cost.
This study was not designed to look at why patients were rehospitalized at different hospitals, and findings cannot be generalized beyond Medicare patients.