Septicemia first among hospital inpatient costs


Hospital costs for the nation’s 35.8 million inpatient stays in 2017 totaled $434.2 billion, for an average of $11,700 per stay, according to a recent analysis from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Most expensive conditions treated in U.S. hospitals, 2017

The single most expensive inpatient condition that year, representing about 8.8% of all hospital costs, was septicemia at $38.2 billion, nearly double the $19.9 billion spent on the next most expensive condition, osteoarthritis, Lan Liang, PhD, of the AHRQ, and associates said in a statistical brief.

These figures “represent the hospital’s costs to produce the services – not the amount paid for services by payers – and they do not include separately billed physician fees associated with the hospitalization,” they noted.

Third in overall cost for 2017 but first in total number of stays were live-born infants, with 3.7 million admissions costing just under $16 billion. Hospital costs for acute myocardial infarction ($14.3 billion) made it the fourth most expensive condition, with heart failure fifth at $13.6 billion, based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project’s National Inpatient Sample.

The 20 most expensive conditions, which also included coronary atherosclerosis, pneumonia, renal failure, and lower-limb fracture, accounted for close to 47% of all hospital costs and over 43% of all stays in 2017. The total amount spent by hospitals that year, $1.1 trillion, constituted nearly a third of all health care expenditures and was 4.7% higher than in 2016, Dr. Liang and associates reported.

“Although this growth represented deceleration, compared with the 5.8% increase between 2014 and 2015, the consistent year-to-year rise in hospital-related expenses remains a central concern among policymakers,” they wrote.

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