More than one in ten elderly patients discharged in Lothian in 2010-11 ended up back in hospital within 28 days.
Statistics released by ISD Scotland revealed that of the 33,569 over-65s who were discharged after a stay in hospital, 12.5 per cent (4243) of them were readmitted within a month.
The information was revealed following a question to Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon posed by Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Alison McInnes.
Commenting on the statistics, McInnes said: “I hope that these figures do not represent patients being sent home too early because doctors are under increasing pressure to meet waiting time targets.
“Older people can be vulnerable, especially after a stay in hospital, and we need to ensure that they are only released from hospital when they are ready to go home.”
“It is crucial that older people, their families and carers receive sufficient support after a stay in hospital to prevent ending up in hospital again a couple of weeks later.”
Across Scotland, 11.9 per cent of elderly patients were readmitted to hospital within one month of being discharged.
NHS Lothian’s figure of 12.5 per cent is the third highest in Scotland, behind only Tayside and the Western Isles.
Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “Our systems also showed that readmission rates do appear high in NHS Lothian and we began an investigation to establish the reason and pattern behind these statistics.
“The average length of stay is in line with the rest of Scotland so there can be no question that NHS Lothian is sending patients home too early.”