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First Look at Sickle Cell Disease Hospitalizations in 10 Years

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: December 20, 2006

The first Federal analysis of sickle cell disease hospitalizations in a decade shows that admissions of adults remained stable from 1997 to 2004. In 2004, roughly 83,000 hospital stays were for adults and 30,000 were for children. Of the latter, 2,000 stays were for infants, according to the latest News and Numbers summary issued by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disease affecting mostly African Americans, causes red blood cells to lose their shape, block circulation, and causes organ damage. The illness has no common cure and patients with periodic pain are often treated with pain medications.

The study found:

  • Patients spent about 5 days in the hospital, which cost facilities an average of $6,223 per stay.
  • Total hospital costs for sickle cell disease were nearly $500 million in 2004.
  • Medicaid paid for 65 percent of the stays involving patients hospitalized primarily for sickle cell disease, while Medicare paid for 13 percent, private insurers were responsible for 15 percent, and 4 percent of the hospitalized patients were uninsured.
  • The number of persons with sickle cell disease who died while hospitalized in 2004 was relatively low—699 adults and 47 children.
  • In-hospital deaths of children remained low and constant from 1994 to 2004.

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on findings in HCUP Statistical Brief No. 21: Obese Patients in U.S. Hospitals, 2004. The report is based on statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of 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.

To speak with the author of this report, or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of December 2006


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