Study: Hospitals spent $30B on avoidable admissions in '06

A new federal report suggests that in 2006, hospitals spent $30.8 billion on 4.4 million hospital admissions that might have been avoidable. The report, which was compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, used its prevention quality indicators to decide when a hospital stay might have been preventable with good enough outpatient care.

Medicare patients accounted for $20.1 billion of the full amount spent on possibly preventable admissions, while privately-insured patients were responsible for $4.7 billion of the $30.8 billion total. The report concluded that congestive heart failure and bacterial pneumonia were the two most common reasons for inpatient stays, mounting up $15.6 billion in costs. 

My question is this: How will we know when we've essentially reached our goal on this metric? After all, we're never going to reach the point where there's unavoidable admissions, so how will we know when we're at the practical maximum improvement level? In other words, while it's all well and good to shoot for zero, what's a realistic baseline?

To learn more about this data:
- read this Modern Healthcare report (reg. req.)

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