- Introduction Hospital readmission within a short time of discharge is a common phenomenon in internal medicine. Although there are a few reports of intensive care and surgical readmission rates there is almost no information available on the readmission rates of internal medicine patients. Aims To explore the medical patient readmission rate within 30 days of discharge from a medical center in southern Israel, and determine how it may be related to age, gender, diagnoses and other factors. Methods Chart review of all 2469 patients admitted to the departments of internal medicine of Barzilai Health Center between May 1st and July 15th 2002. A randomized control group of 87 patients was gathered from patients admitted to hospital during the study period but who were not readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Results 124 patients (5%) were readmitted. They were significantly older than controls (mean age 68.7 ± 14.8 vs. 59.3 ± 16.3 years), (p < 0.0003), 21% being over 80 years of age (compared with 9% of controls, p < 0.05) and had a lower average Functional Independence Measure (FIM). The index hospitalization of readmitted patients was significantly longer than the hospitalization of control patients (6.1 ± 5.5 vs. 4.1 ± 3.8 days), (p < 0.04). Most patients (85%) were readmitted for the same medical reason that prompted the original hospitalization. The 15% readmitted for other reasons were older (74.9 ± 12.4 vs. 67.6 ± 15.0 years) (p < 0.001) and had a lower Functional Independence Measure (mean FIM 4.6 ± 2.2 vs. 5.7 ± 1.9), (p < 0.05). New immigrants (mean age 71.1 ± 12.9 years) had significantly lower readmission rate compared to the general population (3.2% vs. 4.98%), (p < 0.05). Veteran Israelis, on the other hand, had a higher readmission rate than the general population (6.8% vs. 4.98%) (p < 0.001). Conclusion Only 5% of patients required readmission. The original hospitalization period of readmitted patients was significantly longer than controls and most readmissions were for the original medical problem for which they were readmitted originally or because of a low functional status. Hospitalized new immigrants although being older in age are less likely to require readmission, while veteran Israelis are more likely to be readmitted.