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COPD is estimated to affect one in 10 people globally and at least at least 15 million people in the United States. In 2012 COPD became the third leading cause of death in the United States. Nationally hospitalizations for acute exacerbations of COPD account for $13.2 billion of the nearly $50 billion in annual direct costs for COPD.

Reducing early readmissions has become a policy target serving as a measure to judge both quality and outcomes of care delivered delivered by health care. Approximatly 10% to 55% of readmissions after an admission of COPD may be preventable. Factors thought to contribute to early readmission include premature discharge from the hospital, poor discharge medication reconciliation, lack of family education on disease management, and lack of communication with outpatient physicians who will be assuming future care.

Because of the high number of projected preventable readmissions, COPD was included as a condition under the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) in 2014 incenting hospitals to reduce excess all-case, 30-day readmissions after Acute Exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD) to avoid up to a 3% penalty on all Medicare revenues.