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2004 National Healthcare Quality Report

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Effectiveness: Respiratory Diseases

Importance and Measures

Respiratory diseases comprise a broad category of illnesses, including influenza, pneumonia, asthma, upper respiratory infection, and tuberculosis.

Prevalence and Incidence

  • Upper respiratory infections affect over 62 million people annually1.
  • Approximately 5 million cases of pneumonia occur annually2.
  • Between 22 million and 32 million Americans have asthma, and a disproportionate number of these are children3, 4.

Morbidity and Mortality

  • Influenza and pneumonia together are the seventh leading cause of death in the Nation5.
  • Pneumonia results in nearly 55 million days of restricted activity, 31.5 million bed days, and 1.3 million hospitalizations each year2.
  • As many as one-third of children with private insurance and two-fifths of children covered by Medicaid do not receive a prescription to control their asthma6.


  • Inpatient treatment for pneumonia alone amounts to over $7.5 billion annually7.
  • Upper respiratory infections cost approximately $40 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity8.
  • Indirect and direct costs for asthma total between $11.3 billion and $14 billion, with direct costs of hospital care, physician services, and prescriptions as much as $9.4 billion9, 10.


This report tracks several quality measures for respiratory diseases, including management of upper respiratory tract infection and tuberculosis and immunizations for pneumonia. Two areas of measures are highlighted in this section:

  • Receipt of recommended interventions for pneumonia by the elderly
  • Hospital admissions for pediatric asthma


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


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