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More Than Half of All Hospital Procedures Are Done Outpatient

AHRQ News and Numbers, February 17, 2010

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

Nearly 58 percent of the surgeries performed in hospitals were done as outpatient procedures, according to the latest News and Numbers 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 increasingly being used because advances in surgical technology and anesthesia enable surgeons to perform many operations formerly limited to inpatient care.

The Federal agency's analysis of data available from 28 States found that in 2007:

  • Charges for outpatient procedures were 7 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.
  • Hospital outpatient surgery charges 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).

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in 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.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: More Than Half of All Hospital Procedures Are Done Outpatient: AHRQ News and Numbers, February 17, 2010. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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