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Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations for Many Conditions Drop Dramatically for Seniors

AHRQ News and Numbers, December 15, 2009

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

The rate of hospitalizations that could have been potentially prevented with better outpatient care fell faster for seniors than for younger patients between 2003 and 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The Federal agency compared hospitalization rates for 11 chronic and acute conditions that can usually be controlled outside the hospital if patients have access to good outpatient care and follow doctors' instructions, such as taking their medicines at the right time. The analysis compared potentially preventable or avoidable hospitalizations for patients age 65 and over and ages 18 to 64.

The rates of hospitals stays for the following conditions declined faster for seniors than for younger adults:

  • Angina (43 percent decrease vs. 39 percent).
  • Uncontrolled diabetes (21 percent vs. 5 percent).
  • Dehydration (20 percent vs. 16 percent).
  • Short-term diabetes complications, such as hypoglycemia (19 percent decrease vs. an increase of 10 percent).
  • Amputation of the feet or legs, usually because of diabetes (17 percent vs. 3 percent).
  • Bacterial pneumonia (16 percent vs. 8 percent).
  • Congestive heart failure (14 percent vs. 9 percent).

In contrast, the rate of admissions for high blood pressure increased at a roughly equal rate but the hospitalization rate for seniors with urinary tract infections increased by 15 percent, while it increased by only 1 percent for younger adults.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Potentially Preventable Hospitalization Rates Declined for Older Adults, 2003-2007. The report uses statistics from the 2007 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 December 2009
Internet Citation: Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations for Many Conditions Drop Dramatically for Seniors: AHRQ News and Numbers, December 15, 2009. December 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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