Objectives: To determine the direct medical costs of hospitalizations for acute pancreatitis in the United States and analyze the demographic characteristics of hospitalized patients.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.