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Report Finds Hospital Admissions for Influenza Increased 62 Percent

March 28, 2019

According to a research brief released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), the number of influenza (Flu) hospitalizations in Pennsylvania increased 62 percent (from 5,328 in FY 2017 to 8,647 in FY 2018). The most recent five-year trend (FY 2014–2018) shows substantial variation in the number of hospital admissions for Flu, a pattern that is similar to national trends.

The brief focuses on Flu admissions in FY 2018 for Pennsylvania residents aged 65 and older and those under age 18—two segments of the population at high risk of developing influenza-related complications that can result in hospitalization. The report found that on average:

  • Flu patients aged 65 and older stayed in the hospital longer (4.6 days vs 3.6 for all other patients), had higher in-hospital mortality (1.7 percent vs 0.4 percent) and higher readmission rates (12.6 percent vs 10.4 percent), with an associated cost of care of $34 million.
  • Flu patients under age 18 had an average length of stay was 2.5 days. About 21 percent of these children lived in high poverty areas. Of the 604 children admitted for influenza, 362 (60 percent) were under age 5. Associated cost of care by Medicaid (primary payor for 57.6 percent of those under age 18) was $3 million.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports, for the week ending March 23, 2019, that the Flu activity has decreased sharply during the past week in all state regions, but the activity is still widespread and higher than the epidemic threshold.

Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration, underscored the power of vaccination in preventing the spread of flu. “The single best thing we can do to prevent the spread of influenza is to get vaccinated. Those with concerns about a particular type of vaccination should talk to their provider and find the right method to protect themselves and others from the flu,” Dr. Consuelos said. “In addition, everyone should practice good hygiene and handwashing to help prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses. If you or a family member experiences flu symptoms, contact your provider immediately and stay home until you no longer are contagious.”

HAP’s clinical and emergency preparedness teams monitor the progress of flu season and work with Pennsylvania’s hospital community to assess key needs. For more information, contact Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration; or Mark Ross, HAP’s vice president, emergency preparedness.

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