Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Average hospital stay costs nearly $7,000 per patient in Canada

First CIHI report on costs of patient stays shows heart attack, stroke and injuries account for billions a year in hospital costs

OTTAWA, March 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Patient stays in acute care hospitals
account for the largest share (47%) of hospital spending in Canada, according
to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The
report, which examined 2.4 million recorded hospital stays (outside of
Quebec), estimates that on average each patient stay costs almost $7,000, with
a wide variation in cost by medical condition. The study focuses on the cost
of treating those patients admitted to hospital for at least one night and
does not include the cost of emergency care, day surgery, long-term care,
hospital clinics or fee-for-service payments to physicians. The Cost of Acute
Care Hospital Stays by Medical Condition in Canada, 2004-2005 is the first
report of its kind to examine what hospitals spend by patient stay and by
medical condition. Today's report includes only national figures, though costs
are expected to vary from province to province.
"Hospitals account for the greatest share of health spending in Canada,
so it is important to understand how the money is spent," says Jean-Marie
Berthelot, CIHI Vice-President of Programs. "Better knowledge of the cost of
medical conditions is useful for the planning of health services to meet the
needs of the population."

Circulatory diseases account for highest costs, followed by injury

For patients admitted to hospital, diseases of the circulatory system
(for example, heart attack, stroke) cost the most to treat in Canadian acute
care facilities, representing 19% of inpatient costs in 2004-2005. This is due
to a high cost per stay for these patients, an average of $11,260, as well as
a high volume of stays.
Injury and other consequences of external causes (such as falls,
accidents, poisoning) represent the second largest expense for acute care
hospitals, accounting for 10% of total inpatient costs. In 2004-2005, hospital
stays for injury cost, on average, an estimated $9,400 each.
"This finding is significant, because many injuries can be prevented with
targeted programs," says Francine Anne Roy, Director of Health Resources
Information. "Understanding the specific costs of these hospital stays, often
only one element of the care an injured person might eventually require, can
help hospital and system planners better prepare for these patients."

Underlying conditions or complications account for almost 30% of costs

Many people admitted to hospital with a specific diagnosis may also have
a variety of other conditions, often complicating the care they receive. The
presence of these underlying chronic diseases (or other secondary illnesses)
is costly in terms of hospital care. Almost thirty percent (27%) of the money
spent on inpatient care in Canadian acute care hospitals was associated with
conditions that were either present when the patient was admitted, or that
developed during the hospital stay. For example, a patient receiving care in
hospital for a heart attack costs an average of $7,697 over the entire
hospital stay. If the same patient has an underlying condition or experiences
complications, the average cost increases to $11,043. Some examples of
underlying conditions include diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
and pneumonia.

Other highlights from the report

- Along with circulatory disease and injury from external causes, the
five most expensive medical conditions to treat in hospital include
diseases of the respiratory system, cancers and diseases of the
digestive system. Together, these five conditions accounted for 58% of
the cost of inpatient hospital stays.

- Mental or behavioural disorders are among the top 10 most expensive
conditions to treat in hospital, representing 6.6% of the cost of acute
care hospital stays.

- Though pregnancy and childbirth accounted for the highest volume of
stays, they represented only 5% of total inpatient costs.

- When childbirth is excluded, it costs more, on average, to treat male
patients ($7,964 per stay) in a hospital than it does to treat female
patients ($6,236 per stay).

- At almost $14,000 per stay, the most expensive conditions to treat are
those involving congenital malformations or other chromosomal
abnormalities present at birth.

About this report

The Cost of Acute Care Hospital Stays by Medical Condition in Canada,
2004-2005 is the first report to break down total acute care inpatient costs
into cost per stay and number of stays, and to estimate the share of costs
that can be allocated to the treatment or presence of complexity. This report
uses Canadian administrative data and the CIHI's Discharge Abstract Database
(DAD) to answer key questions related to total hospital costs for acute care

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