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Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations Declining for Older Adults

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, December 18, 2009

Rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic cardiac conditions, and acute conditions generally were higher for adults aged 65 or older than for younger adults in 2007, according to a new Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (H-CUP) review from the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research.

However, between 2003 and 2007, rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations declined faster among older adults than among younger adults. The rates varied by medical condition:

Diabetes. Potentially preventable diabetes related hospitalizations occurred 2.6 times more often among older adults than among younger adults. Long term diabetes complications were the most frequent reason for diabetes stays among both groups, and occurred 3.7 times more often among older adults than younger adults. In contrast, short term diabetes complications occurred twice as often among younger adults than among older adults.

The rate of hospital stays for diabetes decreased by 8% among older adults between 2003 and 2007. However, the rate of these stays among younger adults rose 6%.

Chronic respiratory conditions. Potentially preventable stays for chronic respiratory conditions were 5.4 times more common among older adults as they were among younger adults. For older adults, there were 78.4 stays for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 21.6 stays for asthma for every 10,000 older adults. In contrast, there were 8.4 stays for COPD and 10.1 stays for asthma for every 10,000 younger adults.

Chronic cardiac conditions. Hospital stays for chronic cardiac conditions that could have been prevented occurred over 10 times more often among older adults than among those ages 18 to 64. Congestive heart failure was the most common chronic cardiac condition leading to preventable hospital stays among both younger and older adults.

Potentially preventable stays for cardiac conditions among older adults occurred 14% less frequently in 2007 than they did in 2003. The rate of hospitalizations for these conditions declined by 8% among younger adults during the same period, as well.

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