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More Than 4 Million Potentially Preventable Admissions Cost Hospitals Nearly $31 Billion

AHRQ News and Numbers, April 29, 2009

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

American hospitals spent nearly $31 billion—10 percent of their total patient care budget—in 2006 on more than 4 million patient stays that could possibly have been prevented with timely and effective ambulatory care, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Hospital inpatient care is the most expensive type of health care. Reducing preventable hospitalizations is one way to lower America's $ 2.2 trillion medical bill.

According to AHRQ's review of the $31 billion spent on potentially preventable hospitalizations:

  • Congestive heart failure and bacterial pneumonia accounted for about half of the expenses—$8.4 and $7.2 billion respectively.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma accounted for roughly 16 percent—$4.9 billion.
  • Diabetes, including complications, accounted for 13 percent—$4.1 billion.
  • A large portion of the potentially preventable hospitalizations involved the elderly. One in five admissions of Medicare patients was potentially preventable, and overall Medicare patients accounted for roughly two-thirds of the $31 billion spent for these hospitalizations.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Nationwide Frequency and Costs of Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

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

Current as of April 2009
Internet Citation: More Than 4 Million Potentially Preventable Admissions Cost Hospitals Nearly $31 Billion: AHRQ News and Numbers, April 29, 2009. April 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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