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AHRQ: 1 in 10 Hospital Admissions Avoidable

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 4, 2010

Acute care conditions included:

  • Dehydration
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections.

"By measuring the frequency of such hospitalizations among patient subpopulations, policymakers and providers can identify those communities most in need of improvements in outpatient care as well as the conditions for which care is most needed."

Findings in the report include the following:

  • Rural hospitals had nearly double the rate of preventable admissions among patients with acute conditions than urban hospitals, 7% of rural stays versus 3.4% of urban hospital stays. Potentially preventable chronic conditions accounted for 9.2% of stays in urban hospitals but 15.9% in rural ones.
  • People who live in low-income communities were more likely to be admitted for a preventable condition than people who live in wealthier communities.
  • Males were more likely than females to be hospitalized for a chronic preventable condition than women, but less likely than women to be hospitalized for a potentially preventable acute care condition.
  • Nearly one in 10 admissions of people who were uninsured were for potentially preventable conditions, compared to 5.4% for people with private insurance or Medicare coverage.

The report comes from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a federal database that includes statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which includes hospital inpatient stay information. It represents non-Federal, non-rehabilitation hospitals in 44 states.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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