Angioplasties cost more at lower-level hospitals

Angioplasties at hospitals not equipped for emergency heart surgery cost significantly more than at better-equipped facilities, according to a study performed by researchers at Duke University Medical School.

The average cost of an angioplasty at a hospital equipped for emergency cardiac procedures was $23,991. That rises to $25,460 if the hospital lacked a surgical center, Reuters reported. Readmissions also rose.

Altogether, reserachers looked at 18,273 angioplasty patients treated at 59 hospitals, with an average age of 64.

The primary cost driver was connected to what occurred to the patient after surgery, according to Reuters. Those hospitals not equipped to perform emergency cardiac procedures routinely sent their angioplasty patients to their intensive care units after the procedure was completed. Surgery-equipped hospitals did not.

"There is no guarantee that a community hospital can provide angioplasty services at costs comparable with those of major hospitals with on-site cardiac surgery," Eric Eisenstein, M.D., the study's lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at Duke, said in a statement.

Eisenstein also recommended hospitals without emergency cardiac services consider offering non-primary angioplasty procedures.

To learn more:
- here's the research announcement
- read the Reuters article