Stays in Canadian acute care hospitals costly: report

The costs of patient stays in acute care hospitals account for the biggest share of hospital spending, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports.

The costs of patient stays in acute care hospitals account for the biggest share of hospital spending, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports.

A new study, The Cost of Acute Care Hospital Stays by Medical Conditions in Canada, finds that these stays account for 47 per cent of hospital expenditures. The average cost of an acute care hospital stay per patient is $7,000.

"Hospitals account for the greatest share of health spending in Canada, so it is important to understand how the money is spent," said Jean-Marie Berthelot, CIHI vice-president of programs, in a release.

"Better knowledge of the cost of medical conditions is useful for the planning of health services to meet the needs of the population."

Heart attacks and strokes were the most costly to treat in acute care hospitals, accounting for 19 per cent of inpatient costs in 2004 and 2005. A cardiac or stroke patient costs the hospital an average of $11,260 per stay.

Injuries such as falls, accidents and poisoning were the second highest hospital costs, comprising an approximate $9,400 per stay.

The top five contributors to the costs of inpatient hospital stays, which altogether made up 58 per cent of the costs, were heart attacks/strokes, falls/poisonings, respiratory diseases, cancers and diseases of the digestive system, according to the report.

Pregnancy and childbirth made the top of the list in terms of highest volume of stays but represented only 5 per cent of all inpatient costs.

The report also found that male patients are more expensive to treat than female patients, costing an average $7,964 per stay versus $6,236 per stay for women.

Hospital expenditures made up a big part (36.8 per cent) of public-sector health-care spending in 2005.

The CIHI report was released Tuesday.