California Releases Data Detailing Unnecessary Admissions to Hospitals
Preventable hospitalizations for some medical conditions have decreased around California, but work remains to further reduce avoidable stays, according to a recent report by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Sacramento Bee reports (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 12/29/10).
Researchers studied hospitalization rates between 1999 and 2008 for 14 health conditions, including:
- Adult asthma;
- Bacterial pneumonia;
- Chest pain;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- Congestive heart failure;
- Heart disease;
- High blood pressure;
- Lower extremity amputation;
- Pediatric asthma;
- Pediatric gastroenteritis;
- Perforated appendix;
- Short-term complications from diabetes; and
- Urinary tract infection (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 12/29/10).
Preventable hospitalizations were defined as patients being admitted to a hospital for a condition that could have been avoided if care had been administered earlier (Amaro, Merced Sun-Star, 12/29/10).
The report found thatÂ the overall hospitalization rate in California decreased by 6.8% from 1999 to 2008 (Vesely, Modern Healthcare, 12/28/10). By 2008, there were 10,533 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, down from 11,298 per 100,000 people in 1999 (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 12/28/10).
According to the data, hospitalization rates for 10 of the 14 conditions, such as chest pain, dropped by between 10% and 60% during the course of the study (Modern Healthcare, 12/28/10).
However, hospitalizations for some conditions increased. Researchers said hospital stays for high blood pressure increased by more than 36% during the study period (Fresno Bee, 12/28/10).
In addition, OSHPD found that disparities exist among counties. Pediatric hospitalization rates in Alameda County were about two-and-a-half times that state average (HealthLeaders Media, 12/29/10).
According to the report, about 10% of the more than three million hospital admissions in 2008 could have been prevented if patients had visited their primary care physicians more routinely (Sacramento Bee, 12/29/10).
Limitations of the Report
Researchers did not:
- Look into the causes of the results or study patient flow in emergency departments (Sacramento Bee, 12/29/10); or
- Provide analysis at the community level (Fresno Bee, 12/28/10).
However, Michael Kassis -- a research analyst at OSHPD -- said the drop in hospitalizations for some of the conditions partially could beÂ attributed toÂ improved medical treatments. State officials suggested that economics and access to physicians could factor in toÂ hospitalization rates.
Anthony Wright, executive director for Health Access, noted that the data do not address how many people might not have been admitted to hospitals because they lack insurance or face other financial challenges (Sacramento Bee, 12/29/10).
Kassis said that more specific information will be generated for hospitals and counties to help them better identify primary care needs (HealthLeaders Media, 12/29/10).
The Central California Alliance for Health will set up financial incentives for health care providers who work to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations (Merced Sun-Star, 12/29/10).
Meanwhile, counties and local public health agencies will be responsible for determining what the data mean for their communities, according to the Bee (Sacramento Bee, 12/29/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.