AHRQ Data: 5% of those who contract MRSA die

One out of every 20 patients treated in United States hospitals for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in 2005 died from the infection, according to a recent "News & Numbers" summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Most of the patients who died were elderly or low income. AHRQ notes that the death rate for hospitalized MRSA patients was higher than the 4% death rate for patients hospitalized with another potentially deadly illness — tuberculosis.

AHRQ also found that:

  • Approximately 332 Medicare patients per 100,000 were hospitalized for MRSA, compared to 184 Medicaid patients and 29 patients with private insurance. The rate for uninsured patients was 43 admissions per 100,000 people.
  • Men were more likely to be hospitalized for MRSA (107 admissions per 100,000) than women (92 admissions).
  • People in the south were 27% more likely (113 admissions per 100,000) to be hospitalized for MRSA than those in the northeast and midwest (89 admissions per 100,000 population). People in the west fell in between (96 admissions per 100,000).

ED visits up by 5.1 million according to CDC report

Visits to hospital emergency departments increased by 5.1 million in 2005 to 115.3 million, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That is an average of about 30,000 visits per ED, nearly one-third more than in 1995. The ED visit rate for patients without health insurance was about twice that of those with private insurance, according to the report. Infants under age 1 had the highest visit rate by age. The leading diagnosis for children under 13 was acute upper respiratory infection.

Other top diagnoses by age were bruises, adolescents; abdominal pain, adults under 50; chest pain, adults 50-64; and heart disease, seniors. About 12% of ED visits resulted in hospital admission. The leading diagnosis at discharge was heart disease.

The 2008 edition of AHA Hospital Statistics, which came out in late October , includes figures regarding ED usage in 2006. It reports that hospital EDs served 3.6 million more people that year than in 2005, while the number of inpatient admissions held steady.

ED visits totaled 118.4 million, up from 88.5 million in 1991, according to the AHA survey. Contributing to the rise in visits, it reported, is the increased use of hospital services from baby boomers who recently turned 60, an age when use of health care services begins to go up dramatically.

AHA survey report outlines uncompensated care costs

The cost of uncompensated hospital care in the United States was $31.2 billion in 2006, up from $28.8 billion in 2005 and $21.6 billion in 2000, according to the latest figures from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey of Hospitals.

Underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid reached nearly $30 billion in 2006, up from 25.3 billion in 2005 and $4 billion in 2000. Medicare reimbursed 91 cents and Medicaid reimbursed 86 cents for every dollar hospitals spent caring for these patients.

In 2005, 65% of hospitals received Medicare payments less than cost and 77% of hospitals received Medicaid payments less than cost.

AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock says survey data show that "hospitals are seeing more and more patients while future financing is uncertain, emergency departments continue to be overcrowded, and fewer workers are available to provide care."

The information is summarized in two AHA fact sheets, available on-line at www.aha.org.

OSHA reports high injury/illness rates

More than 14,000 employers have been notified that their worksite injury and illness rates are higher than average — and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is watching.

In a letter sent to the employers in March, OSHA offered its help to any that wanted to proactively take steps to reduce their injury and illness rates. Workplaces with high injury and illness rates were identified by OSHA through employer-reported data from a 2006 survey that gathered 2005 data from 80,000 sites. The workplaces identified had 5.3 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer (DART) for every 100 full-time workers. The national average during 2005 was 2.4 DART instances for every 100 workers.

OSHA says the list does not designate any employers earmarked for future inspections; the agency will announce targeted inspections later in 2007. The 14,201 sites are listed alphabetically by state on OSHA's web site at www.osha.gov/as/opa/foia/hot_13.html.