Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations in Pennsylvania - News Release

Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or

1 in 8 Hospitalizations are Potentially Preventable

Harrisburg, PA - April 26, 2018 - According to a research brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), 12.7% or about 1 in 8 hospitalizations for Pennsylvania residents were potentially preventable in FY 2017. Statewide there were 171,211 potentially preventable hospital admissions in FY 2017, totaling 775,251 hospital days and an estimated $1.2 billion in hospital payments.

The good news is that the rate of potentially preventable hospitalizations decreased 28% between FY 2008 and FY 2017, from 220.9 to 158.2 admissions per 10,000 Pennsylvania residents.

“Identifying areas within Pennsylvania with higher rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations highlights opportunities where early detection and timely care might lead to improved outcomes and decreased costs,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s Executive Director.

Using a set of Prevention Quality Indicators developed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), PHC4 identified hospital admissions for select conditions that might have been prevented with access to effective primary or preventive care—thereby avoiding the need for a more expensive hospital stay.

Heart failure was the condition with the highest number of potentially preventable hospitalizations. At 49,888 admissions, heart failure encompassed 29.1% of the potentially preventable hospitalizations in FY 2017. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or asthma in residents age 40 and older was the second highest condition at 37,619 admissions.

Statewide, there were 158.2 potentially preventable hospitalizations per 10,000 residents. Southeastern PA region had the highest rate at 175.9. Central and Northeastern PA region had the lowest rate at 128.7. While Western PA’s rate of 164.9 was higher than the statewide rate, this region saw a 34% decrease since FY 2008—the highest decrease among the three regions.

In general, population-based data showed higher rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations among older residents, black residents and lower income residents:

County-level population-based rates are also included in the brief.

The brief is available on PHC4's website at www.phc4.org. You can also link to it through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.