Medical devices account for large share of inpatient care costs

Although diagnostic imaging services are commonly thought to be the largest contributor to the high cost of inpatient hospital treatment, a recently released study found that medical devices, including artificial joints, might be the biggest contributor, according to a news release.

The study, which was published in Health Services Research, used the 2001 and 2006 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases and Medicare Cost Reports for community, non-rehabilitation hospitals in nine states. The researchers, led by Jared Lane Maeda, PhD, from Truven Health Analytics in Washington, DC, conducted a cost analysis on more than 10.2 million patient discharges for various conditions.

They found that supplies and devices, defined as the supply items required for patient care and include items such as artificial joints, accounted for 24.2% of costs and were the leading contributors to the increase in average cost per discharge. The next highest contributor was intensive care unit charges, 17.6%.

“One of the take-away messages for hospitals is that they should examine their own data in closer detail to explore the costs that are rapidly rising and have a better understanding for the underlying reasons,” Maeda said in the release.

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