HOUSTON-Unscheduled hospital admissions for treatment of pain
represent a significant cost-$4.7 million annually in a study
from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Monica M. Larsen, BA, of the Department of Pharmacoeconomics,
who presented the abstract at the 8th World Congress on Pain,
said that more effective outpatient pain interventions are the
key to reducing these expensive admissions.
Ms. Larsen and her colleagues reviewed the records of all patients
admitted through the emergency care unit over a 6-month period.
Of the 1,166 total admissions, 14% were for pain, ranking second
only to fever (35%). The reasons for the pain admissions were
pain management (60%), abdominal pain (24%), chest pain (10%),
headache (5%), and back pain (1%).
The mean length of stay for pain admissions was 10.5 days, and
the mean patient charge per admission was $19,000 ($1,800 per
Using the hospital-specific cost-to-charge ratio of 0.74, the
researchers determined that the actual hospital cost per admission
for pain was $14,000 ($1,300 per day). Thus, they were able to
predict an annual cost of about $4.7 million for unscheduled pain