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AHRQ makes access to hospital data easier

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has redesigned its interactive HCUPnet software tool, which is available on the Web at http://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/. The redesign makes it easier for users to obtain hospital care trend data for the Nation and for individual States. The data, which are drawn from 36 States, represent 90 percent of all hospital stays in the Nation.

HCUPnet's databases include statistics on the conditions for which patients were hospitalized, the diagnostic and surgical procedures they underwent, patient death rates, hospital charges, hospital costs, length of stay, and other aspects of inpatient care. The data are for all patients, regardless of type of insurance or whether they were insured. For example, using HCUPnet to research the impact of the obesity epidemic on hospital care and costs shows that more than 58,000 surgical procedures related to obesity were performed in 2001.

In addition, the data show that between 1993 and 2001:

  • The number of patients admitted for treatment of diabetes with complications—a condition often linked to obesity—rose 23 percent, from 373,666 to 461,161.
  • The number of lower extremity amputations, a complication of diabetes, increased 14 percent from 99,522 to 113,379. The average hospital charge for this procedure increased 38 percent, from $24,332 to $33,562.
  • Admissions for heart attack—people who are obese are at increased risk for heart attack—rose 13 percent, from 682,763 to 773,871, and charges increased 61 percent—from an average of $19,178 per hospital stay to $30,875 per stay.
  • Knee replacements, also more common among obese patients, increased roughly 29 percent, from 282,177 to 363,536, and the average hospital charge rose 38 percent, from $18,352 to $25,309.

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