Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 926–929

Leaving Against Medical Advice (AMA): Risk of 30-Day Mortality and Hospital Readmission

  • Justin M. Glasgow
  • Mary Vaughn-Sarrazin
  • Peter J. Kaboli
Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-010-1371-4

Cite this article as:
Glasgow, J.M., Vaughn-Sarrazin, M. & Kaboli, P.J. J GEN INTERN MED (2010) 25: 926. doi:10.1007/s11606-010-1371-4



With 1–2% of patients leaving the hospital against medical advice (AMA), the potential for these patients to suffer adverse health outcomes is of major concern.


To examine 30-day hospital readmission and mortality rates for medical patients who left the hospital AMA and identify independent risk factors associated with these outcomes.


A 5-year retrospective cohort of all patients discharged from a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital.


The final study sample included 1,930,947 medical admissions to 129 VA hospitals from 2004 to 2008; 32,819 patients (1.70%) were discharged AMA.


Primary outcomes of interest were 30-day mortality and 30-day all-cause hospital readmission.


Compared to discharges home, AMA patients were more likely to be black, have low income, and have co-morbid alcohol abuse (for all, Χ2 df = 1, p < 0.001). AMA patients had a higher 30-day readmission rate (17.7% vs. 11.0%, p < 0.001) and higher 30-day mortality rate (0.75% vs. 0.61%, p = 0.001). In Cox proportional hazard modeling controlling for demographics and co-morbidity, the largest hazard for patients having a 30-day readmission is leaving AMA (HR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.32–1.39). Similar modeling for 30-day mortality reveals a nearly significant increased hazard rate for patients discharged AMA (HR = 1.10, 95% CI 0.98–1.24).


Due to the higher risk of adverse outcomes, hospitals should target AMA patients for post-discharge interventions, such as phone follow-up, home visits, or mental health counseling to improve outcomes.


readmission mortality against medical advice 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin M. Glasgow
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary Vaughn-Sarrazin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter J. Kaboli
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice (CRIISP) at the Iowa City VA Medical CenterIowaUSA
  2. 2.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA

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