Sepsis is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing $23.7 billion

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In 2013, aggregate hospital costs for 35.6 million hospital stays totaled more than $381 billion.

Septicemia topped the list of the most expensive conditions treated in hospitals in the United States in 2013, says a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Also known as “sepsis,” septicemia is a life-threatening condition, occurring when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. It accounted for $23.7 billion, or 6.2 percent of the aggregate costs for all hospitalizations.

Rounding out the top five most expensive conditions are osteoarthritis ($16.5 billion, or 4.3 percent of aggregate costs), newborn infant care ($13.3 billion, or 3.5 percent), acute myocardial infarctions ($21.1 billion, or 3.2 percent), and complications from devices, implants or grafts ($12.4 billion, or 3.3 percent).

Together, those five conditions accounted for about one-fifth of the total aggregate costs for hospitalizations. In 2013, aggregate hospital costs for 35.6 million hospital stays totaled more than $381 billion. The top 20 conditions represented nearly half of aggregate hospital costs.

The primary insurer shares of aggregate hospital costs were 63 percent for Medicare and Medicaid, 28 percent for private insurance and 5 percent for uninsured hospitalizations. Septicemia ranked among the four most costly conditions in the hospital for all four of those payer groups.

Given payer differences in demographic mix and service coverage, certain conditions were more common for some payer groups than for others. Osteoarthritis and back problems were top-ranked among hospital stays covered by Medicare and private insurance.

Hospitalizations associated with pregnancy and childbirth accounted for five of the 20 most expensive conditions covered by Medicaid, while mood disorders were a top-ranked condition for stays covered by Medicaid and private insurance, and for uninsured stays.

The study authors said that although just 7.2 percent of the population had a hospital inpatient stay in 2012, the mean expense per stay was over $18,000, enough to make hospitalization one of the most expensive types of healthcare treatment.


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