Medicare shortchanges hospitals on strokes

Jan. 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
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ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Medicare may be shortchanging U.S. hospitals for the cost of treating stroke, researchers at the Mayo Clinic find.

Dr. Waleed Brinjikji, Dr. Alejandro A. Rabinstein and Dr. Harry J. Cloft of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., used data from the the National Inpatient Sample to evaluate hospitalization costs for patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke in the United States from 2001 to 2008.

Intravenous thrombolysis is an IV medication that can help break up a blood clot and limit brain damage, the researchers said.

Cost data were correlated with demographics and clinical outcome.

Intravenous thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke was administered to 63,472 patients -- 24,094 were younger than age 65 and 40,780 were age 65 years or older, the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, found median hospital costs in in 2008 dollars were $14,102 for patients with good outcome, $18,856 for patients with severe disability and $19,129 for patients who died.

However, the average 2008 Medicare payments were: $10,098 for intravenous thrombolysis without complication and $13,835 for intravenous thrombolysis with major complication.

Hospitalization costs for patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis are substantially higher than Medicare payments, the researchers concluded.

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