August 17, Wisconsin Health News
Wisconsin hospitals saw more visitors to their facilities and emergency rooms last year, but patients were there for shorter periods of time, according to a report recently released by the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
Emergency room visits shot up 4.7 percent in 2015 to 1.79 million, compared to 1.71 million in 2014, while hospitalizations at general medical-surgical hospitals inched up 0.2 percent to 580,881. The average length of stay decreased 0.5 percent from 4.2 days to 4.1.
Meanwhile, the average charge per hospitalization grew 5.2 percent to $32,197.
Brian Potter, senior vice president at the Wisconsin Hospital Association, said charges are going up because of rate increases, as well as the trend of lower cost discharges moving to the outpatient setting, increasing the acuity of inpatient stays.
The downward trend of length of stays, which were 4.7 days in 2000, is significant because many of the short stay cases are now done on an outpatient basis, according to Potter. He attributed the increase in ER visits to the federal health reform law's coverage expansion.
"People with coverage tend to use more services and if they are new to the system, they often begin with an ER visit," he said.
The most common reason for going to the hospital was childbirth, representing 16 percent of all hospitalizations. In the emergency room, abdominal pain was the most frequent diagnosis, accounting for 6 percent of visits.
View WHA data here.