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  • Average Hospital Stay Was $10k in 2011; Musculoskeletal Conditions 2nd Largest Area of Cost

    From 1997 to 2011, the average cost of a hospital stay rose to $10,000, with the costs for stays for osteoarthritis and back problems increasing at more than 2 times the overall rate. In terms of the reason for stays, musculoskeletal conditions represented the second largest single area of costs, at 14%.

    The statistical brief (.pdf) released this month by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) is based on data from community hospitals and reflects 95% of all discharges in the United States. Among the findings from the study:

    • In 2011, the average cost of a hospital stay was $10,000.
    • Between 1997 and 2011, costs rose at an annual inflation-adjusted rate of 3.6%. Consumer prices during that time rose at a 2.1% rate.
    • Adults aged 45–84 accounted for almost 66% of all costs and, at an average of $12,600, the highest mean cost per stay.
    • Stays billed to Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 63% of aggregate costs, and average Medicare costs were $1,900 higher than the overall figure.
    • Circulatory conditions accounted for 18% of hospital costs, followed by musculoskeletal conditions (14%) and respiratory conditions (11%). Other conditions represented between 5% and 9% of costs.
    • Osteoarthritis, spondylosis, and hip fracture were among the diagnoses with average stay costs more than 50% higher than the $10,000 average; however, hip fracture witnessed a decline in overall hospitalization rates, which reduced aggregate cost estimates.

    Established in 1988, HCUP contains the largest all-payer longitudinal database in the United States and uses state government data, hospital associations, private entities, and the federal government to create its studies.

    APTA offers information to physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) on how to reduce hospital stays and costs through minimizing risk of readmission, as well as how to keep up with current reporting requirements for inpatient care. Additionally, former APTA Board of Directors member Dianne Jewell, PT, DPT, PhD, CCS, serves on the National Quality Forum's (NQF) Ad-hoc Planned Readmissions Committee. Better still: minimize the risk of any hospital stay for hip fracture by learning about falls prevention.

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