Minn. health officials: $2B wasted in preventable hospital, ER visits

The Minnesota Department of Health reported there were 1.3 million “potentially preventable” hospital and emergency room visits in 2012 in the department’s first-ever analysis of the state’s emergency department visits, hospital admissions and hospital re-admissions.

By the numbers

1.3 million preventable visits
$2 billion in hospital costs
4.8% of total health care spending in Minnesota in 2012
About 50,000 Minnesotans had 4 or more potentially preventable emergency department (ED) visits
14% of the population are Medicaid members, accounted for 40% of ED visits
About 50,000 hospital admissions costing $373 million
About 22,000 hospital re-admissions costing $237 million

Most prevalent ED diagnoses:
9% infections of the upper respiratory tract
7% abdominal pain
7% musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diagnoses

Most prevalent hospital admissions:
13% pneumonia, excluding pneumonia related to bronchiolitis and respiratory syncytial virus
12.1% heart failure
8.1% COPD

The department used 2012 claims data from the Minnesota All Payer Claims Database (MN APCD) and data analytics developed by 3M.

“Potentially preventable health care events” are defined as “hospital and emergency department visits that patients possibly could have avoided under the right circumstances such as timely access to primary care, improved medication management, greater health and health system literacy, and better coordination of care among clinicians, social service providers, patients and families,” MDH said in a news release.

An example of this visit could be for a urinary tract infection that could have been treated in primary care or a readmission to a hospital “because of poor follow up care after a discharge,” health officials said.

"Even for those events that may be actually preventable, the best opportunity for prevention may exist farther upstream than the points of care included in this study," said MDH's State Health Economist Stefan Gildemeister. "Though we do see a substantial opportunity for cost savings in the health care system, the best prevention for many of these events may lie outside of the health care delivery system altogether."

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in – includes advertiser stories