Impact of hospital-acquired conditions on financial liabilities for Medicare patients


      • Hospital-acquired conditions increase costs to patients by $20.5 million per year.
      • Pressure ulcers and catheter-associated urinary tract infection patients are more likely to run out of Medicare coverage.
      • Added patient costs from hospital-acquired conditions occur in later health care.


      Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) can increase the financial liabilities faced by patients when the HACs require additional treatment both in the hospital and in subsequent health care encounters. This article estimates incremental effects of 6 HACs on Medicare beneficiary financial liabilities.


      Descriptive and multivariate analyses were used to examine the differences in beneficiary liability between care episodes with and without HACs. Episodes included the index hospitalization in which the HAC occurred and all inpatient, outpatient, and physician claims within 90 days of index hospital discharge. Medicare fee-for-service patients discharged from a hospital in fiscal year (FY) 2009 or FY 2010 with severe pressure ulcer, fracture, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, vascular catheter-associated infection, surgical site infection, or deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism after certain orthopedic procedures were matched by diagnosis, sex, race, and age to with patients without HACs.


      Medicare patients were liable for an additional $20.5 million per year across the HAC episodes compared with what they would have owed without the HACs. Beneficiaries with HACs were also more likely to exhaust their Part A days in the index hospitalization.


      HACs create significant financial burden for Medicare beneficiaries. The incremental financial liabilities are concentrated in the episode of care after the index hospitalization with the HAC. Policies and programs that reduce HAC incidence will improve Medicare beneficiaries' physical and financial health.

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