Decreased Serum Albumin Denotes Elevated Risk of Hospital Readmission

October 10, 2018

By Louise Gagnon

BALTIMORE, Md -- October 9, 2018 -- Low levels of serum albumin are associated with an increased risk of hospital readmission, according to a study presented here at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

“The level of serum albumin gives you information about how physiologically stable a patient is,” said Grace Leu Burke, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska. “We wanted to know if we were inappropriately discharging patients from the ER.”

She explained that decreased albumin levels denote physiological instability and that during an inflammatory response, the liver stops producing albumin.

The researchers conducted the study at Salina Regional Health Center, Salina, Kansas, after reviewing serum albumin values of 6.046 patients who had been admitted to the health center’s emergency department (ED).

After statistical analysis, they did not find that age, gender, nor whether a patient had been admitted on a weekday or on a weekend made a difference in the risk of readmission to hospital.

However, serum albumin levels did influence the risk of admission to hospital, independent of the diagnosis. Patients with albumin levels

Of note, patients discharged with serum albumin levels

“If you are discharged with an albumin value of less than 3.1, you will have a 1 in 2 chance of being admitted within 7 days,” said Burke.

“They [clinicians] do not have to order this test,” she added. “The value is already on the chart. It can be used as a triage tool. The EDs are so busy, it is important to know if we are appropriately or inappropriately discharging patients [from the ED].”

[Presentation title: Hypoalbuminemia as an Emergency Department Triage Indicator for Hospital Admission]