(RxWiki News) People with chronic illnesses often go to the hospital frequently. But lupus patients may face particularly frequent hospital visits.
A new study looked at hospitalization data on lupus patients.
The study authors found that many lupus patients who had gone to the hospital had returned within 30 days of discharge.
"Talk to your rheumatologist about managing lupus symptoms."
The study was conducted by Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH, of the University of California's Division of Rheumatology, and colleagues.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which patients' immune systems attack healthy tissues and organs. Symptoms vary widely between patients, but most people with lupus have tender and swollen joints — similar to arthritis.
According to the authors, 20 to 25 percent of lupus patients are hospitalized each year, usually due to infections or similar symptoms.
This study looked at the rate of hospital readmissions for lupus patients with a recent hospital visit.
Using health care databases from five states, researchers looked for hospital admissions among lupus patients within 30 days of a hospital discharge from January 2008 to November 2009. They found that 31,903 people with lupus were hospitalized 55,936 times.
Readmissions within 30 days occurred in 1 in 6 cases (16.5 percent), affecting 4,916 patients, the study authors noted.
The researchers found that the readmitted patients were usually young, female and from ethnic minorities.
The readmitted patients often had severe lupus symptoms like seizures or kidney disease and paid with publicly funded health insurance like Medicaid or Medicare.
The study authors said that populations that were "historically underserved" — like black and Hispanic patients and patients with Medicaid or Medicare — were most at risk of 30-day readmissions.
The study was published Aug. 11 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases funded the study. The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.