More than half of all hospital procedures are outpatient

Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355

Nearly 58 percent of the surgeries performed in hospitals were done as outpatient procedures, according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In outpatient surgery, also called ambulatory or same-day surgery, patients normally require hospital care for less than 24 hours. These operations are being used more often because advances in surgical technology and anesthesia enable surgeons to perform many operations formerly limited to inpatient care.

AHRQ's analysis of data available from 28 States also found that in 2007:

  • Charges for outpatient procedures were seven times lower than for inpatient ones. The average hospital charge for an outpatient procedure was $6,100 in 2007 compared with $39,900 for an inpatient procedure.
  • Outpatient surgery charges for hospitals totaled $55.6 billion compared with $259 billion for inpatient surgeries.
  • Colonoscopies and resulting biopsies were the most frequently performed outpatient procedure (18 percent of all ambulatory procedures), followed by upper gastrointestinal endoscopies and related biopsies (11 percent), lens and cataract procedures (5.5 percent), and diagnostic cardiac catheterization (4 percent).

These data come from the report Hospital-Based Ambulatory Surgery, 2007. The report uses statistics from 28 States that provide data to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Ambulatory Surgery Databases and their corresponding State Inpatient Databases. These databases provide information on hospital-based ambulatory and inpatient surgeries performed in short-term, acute care hospitals. The report is available at

Current as of March 2010
Internet Citation: More than half of all hospital procedures are outpatient: Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355. March 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.