Hospitalisations and costs relating to ambulatory care sensitive conditions in Ireland

Ir J Med Sci. 2012 Dec;181(4):527-33. doi: 10.1007/s11845-012-0810-0. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


Background: Ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs) are conditions for which the provision of timely and effective outpatient care can reduce the risks of hospitalisation by preventing, controlling or managing a chronic disease or condition.

Aims: The aims of this study were to report on ACSCs in Ireland, and to provide a baseline for future reference.

Methods: Using HIPE, via Health Atlas Ireland, inpatient discharges classified as ACSCs using definitions from the Victorian ACSC study were extracted for the years 2005-2008. Direct methods of standardisation allowed comparison of rates using the EU standard population as a comparison for national data, and national population as comparison for county data. Costs were estimated using diagnosis-related groups.

Results: The directly age-standardised discharge rate for ACSC-related discharges increased slightly, but non-significantly, from 15.40 per 1,000 population in 2005 to 15.75 per 1,000 population in 2008. The number of discharges increased (9.5%) from 63,619 in 2005 to 69,664 in 2008, with the estimated associated hospital costs increasing (31.5%) from <euro>267.8 million in 2005 to <euro>352.2 million in 2008. Across the country, there was considerable variation in the discharge rates for the Top-10 ACSCs for the years 2005-2008. Significantly lower rates of hospitalisation were observed in more urban areas including Cork, Dublin and Galway. The most common ACSC in 2008 was diabetes with complications (29.8%).

Conclusions: The variation in rates observed indicates the scope of reducing hospitalisations and associated costs for ACSCs, across both adult's and children's services and particularly in relation to diabetes complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / economics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / economics*
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ireland
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / trends*
  • Young Adult