To determine the direct medical costs of hospitalizations for acute pancreatitis in the United States and analyze the demographic characteristics of hospitalized patients.
We searched the 2003 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project-National Inpatient Sample for hospitalizations with a primary discharge diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. These were analyzed with respect to patient demographics, hospitalization rates, and total hospital charges and costs.
The estimated total cost for acute pancreatitis admissions was $2.2 billion (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 billion-2.3 billion) at a mean cost per hospitalization of $9870 (95% CI, 9300-10,400), and a mean cost per hospital day of $1670 (95% CI, 1620-1720). Costs per hospitalization were higher in urban hospitals, teaching hospitals, and for patients older than 65 years, based on a longer length of stay (LOS). The hospitalization rate was 0.52 per 1000 US population (95% CI, 0.48-0.56) for whites versus 0.76 per 1000 (95% CI, 0.65-0.87) for blacks.
Acute pancreatitis hospitalizations cost more than $2 billion annually, and certain population groups (blacks and older patients) have disproportionately high hospitalization rates. This study highlights the need for prevention efforts, particularly targeting high-risk groups, and for further studies to identify cost effective treatment strategies for acute pancreatitis.