The top 20 costliest hospital staysNews added by Benefits Pro on October 11, 2013

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By Dan Cook

Septicemia — defined by the National Library of Medicine as “a serious, life-threatening infection that gets worse very quickly” — is the costliest inpatient medical condition in the U.S.

That’s according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which calculated total inpatient U.S. medical costs for 2011 and ranked the top 20 in terms of cost.

Anyone who’s had any experience with septicemia knows how nasty, and costly to treat, the disorder can be.

Says the Library of Medicine: “It can arise from infections throughout the body, including infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract. … Septicemia is not common but it is very serious. Diagnosing it early may prevent septicemia from worsening to shock.”

Here’s the top 20 list, courtesy of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:
    1. Septicemia (except in labor) — $20.3 billion
    2. Osteoarthritis — $14.8 billion
    3. Complication of device, implant or graft — $12.9 billion
    4. Liveborn (general childbirth) — $12.4 billion
    5. Heart attack — $11.5 billion
    6. Spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders, other back problems — $11.2 billion
    7. Pneumonia (except caused by tuberculosis and STDs) — $10.6 billion
    8. Congestive heart failure — $10.5 billion
    9. Coronary atherosclerosis — $10.4 billion
    10. Adult respiratory failure — $8.7 billion
Acute cerebrovascular disease — $8.4 billion
Cardiac dysrhythmias — $7.6 billion
Complications of surgical procedures or medical care — $6.9 billion
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis — $5.7 billion
Rehab care, fitting of prostheses and adjustment of devices — $5.5 billion
Diabetes mellitus with complications — $5.4 billion
Biliary tract disease — $5.1 billion
Hip fractures — $4.9 billion
Mood disorders — $4.8 billion Acute and unspecified renal failure — $4.7 billion

The agency reported that total cost of hospital stays in 2011was $387 billion, and reported that Medicare and Medicaid paid 63 percent of that total, or $242.9 billion. Commercial insurers covered 29 percent, or $112.5 billion, while the remaining $17.1 billion was labeled “uninsured hospitalizations.”

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