Avoidable hospitalizations puzzle health leaders in D.C.

Officials in D.C. are troubled by a newly-documented rise in avoidable hospitalizations among children and adults, a trend which cuts across both insured and uninsured patients. Statistics released by research firm Rand show that such hospitalizations have climbed from 39.1 per 1,000 adults aged 40-64 in 2004 to 43.4 in 2006. Meanwhile, among children through age 17, the rate shot up from 8.9 to 12.1. The rate began to climb in 2005, largely tied to MRSA infections, but officials say more is involved, including an overloaded primary care system and strained emergency departments. Officials commissioned the study to help them decide how to spend $116 million in tobacco settlement funds; they've suggested that this data may change their plans from building a new hospital and clinics to rehabbing and selling D.C.'s Greater Southeast Community Hospital.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from The Washington Post