Age and the economics of an emergency medical admission—what factors determine costs?

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Background: The ageing of the population may be anticipated to increase demand on hospital resources. We have investigated the relationship between hospital episode costs and age profile in a single centre.

Methods: All Emergency Medical admissions (33 732 episodes) to an Irish hospital over a 6-year period, categorized into three age groups, were evaluated against total hospital episode costs. Univariate and adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were calculated using zero truncated Poisson regression.

Results: The total hospital episode cost increased with age (P < 0.001). The multi-variable Poisson regression model demonstrated that the most important drivers of overall costs were Acute Illness Severity—IRR 1.36 (95% CI: 1.30, 1.41), Sepsis Status −1.46 (95% CI: 1.42, 1.51) and Chronic Disabling Disease Score -1.25 (95% CI: 1.22, 1.27) and the Age Group as exemplified for those >85 years IRR 1.23 (95% CI: 1.15, 1.32).

Conclusion: Total hospital episode costs are a product of clinical complexity with contributions from the Acute Illness Severity, Co-Morbidity, Chronic Disabling Disease Score and Sepsis Status. However age is also an important contributor and an increasing patient age profile will have a predictable impact on total hospital episode costs.

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