By Anne-Marie Tobin, THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO – A new report on health care estimates that, on average, each stay in a Canadian hospital by a patient costs almost $7,000.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information report, released Tuesday, offers a breakdown on costs by medical condition, and finds that diseases of the circulatory system – for example, heart attack and stroke – cost the most to treat in acute-care facilities.
It’s the first report of its kind to examine what hospitals spend by patient stay and by medical condition, the institute said. The report did not include Quebec but examined 2.4 million hospital stays throughout the rest of Canada.
“Knowing exactly where the money is spent, you’re then able to focus your strategy around the planning of your expense around health,” Francine Anne Roy, director of Health Resources Information at CIHI, said from Ottawa.
Hospital stays for patients with circulatory diseases ring in at an average cost of $11,260, and they accounted for 19 per cent of in-patient costs in 2004-2005 when volume of patients and the cost per patient were tallied. There were 292,000 hospital stays for this condition, Roy said.
Injuries from external causes – such as falls, accidents and poisonings – accounted for 10 per cent of total in-patient costs, and each of those hospital stays cost on average an estimated $9,400.
Diseases of the respiratory system, cancer and diseases of the digestive system rounded out the top five in terms of the most expensive medical conditions to treat. Together, the five conditions accounted for 58 per cent of the cost of in-patient hospital stays.
Mental or behavioural disorders represented 6.6 per cent of the cost of acute-care hospital stays, the report said.
The statisticians looked at the cost of treating patients admitted to hospital for at least one night. This included, for instance, the cost of nursing, meals and drugs but didn’t include the cost of emergency care, day surgery, long-term care, clinics or fee-for-service payments to doctors.
“It will help planners think about some of their preventive programs, and also how to manage their budget,” Roy explained.
“For example, if they are creating a new hospital with different types of units, let’s say heart-cardiac unit, they will have a better understanding of the cost to run such a unit.”
Childbirth costs came out to just under $3,000 per stay, said Roy, and more than 314,000 patients were admitted.
The researchers also did a comparison of costs by gender, excluding childbirth, and found that it costs more, on average, to treat male patients in a hospital than it does to treat female patients.
The average cost to treat male patients was $7,964 per hospital stay, compared to $6,236 per stay for females.
Roy said the researchers were surprised by the finding, and noted that females tend to live longer.
“We have not investigated that piece to be able to have an answer, but it is certainly something we would like to investigate further,” she said.
One possibility, she speculated, is that women might be using more preventive programs and going to the hospital less.