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5% of Hospital Costs Attributed to Maternal Care

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 20, 2011

The U.S. spent $17.4 billion, or one of every $20 in hospital costs in 2008, on maternal care with delivery-related complications, according to a report published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

And more than nine in every 10 women, or 94%, who gave birth that year had some sort of pregnancy complication that had to be addressed during their stay.

The agency reported that those complications included premature labor, urinary infection, anemia, diabetes, vomiting, bleeding, laceration, abnormal fetal heart rate, advanced maternal age, hypertension and eclampsia, a dangerous condition associated with swelling, seizures, and high blood pressure.

Anemia was the most common complication for non-delivery stays, accounting for 10% of hospital stays, followed by diabetes or abnormal glucose tolerance, which was about 8%.

But for delivery stays, the most common complications were umbilical cord problems and perineal lacerations, 23.3% and 15.8% respectively.

The report is based on 4.63 million hospital stays among females 15-44 years of age.

Other highlights in the report indicate that complications in pregnancy-related hospitalization meant that hospital stays were about one day longer, 2.9 days for non-delivery stays and 2.7 for delivery stays, than stays without complications. They also were about 50% more expensive, between $4,100 and $3,990, compared with stays without complications, which cost $2,600.

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