Patterns of Hospital Bypass and Interhospital Transfer Among Patients With Heart Failure.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of cardiac failure


cards; cards publication


BACKGROUND: We describe how patient characteristics influence hospital bypass, interhospital transfer, and in-hospital mortality in patients with heart failure in Washington. Rural patients with heart failure may bypass their nearest hospital or be transferred for appropriate therapies. The frequency, determinants, and outcomes of these practices remain uncharacterized.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Mean excess travel times based on hospital and patient residence ZIP codes were calculated using published methods. Hospitals and servicing areas were coded based on bed size and ZIP code, respectively. Transfer patterns were analyzed using bootstrap inference for clusters. Analysis of mortality and transfer-associated factors was performed using logistic regression with generalized estimating equations. There were 48,163 patients, representing 1106 instances of transfer, studied. The mean excess travel time increased 7.14 minutes per decrease in population density (metropolitan, micropolitan, small town, rural; P < .0001). The rural mean excess travel time was greatest at 28.56 minutes. Transfer likelihood increased with younger age, male gender, admitting hospital rurality, higher Charlson Comorbidity Index, and stroke. Transfer was less likely among women (odds ratio [OR], 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72-0.94) and patients over 70 years old (OR, 0.15-0.46; 95% CI, 0.10-0.65). Adjusting for comorbidities and transfer propensity, transfer exhibited a stronger association with mortality than any other measured patient risk factor (OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.69-2.73), excluding stroke (OR, 7.09; 95% CI, 4.99-10.06).

CONCLUSIONS: Rural hospital bypass is prevalent among patients with heart failure, although its clinical significance is unclear. Female and older patients were found to have a lesser likelihood of transfer adjusted for other factors. Interhospital transfer is associated with increased mortality when adjusted for comorbidities.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)




Hospital Medicine