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Stroke. 2007 Apr;38(4):1309-12. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

How diagnosis-related group 559 will change the US Medicare cost reimbursement ratio for stroke centers.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA.



Thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke saves societal costs, but hospitals that practice acute stroke care appear to shoulder the burden of the cost, which exceeds reimbursement. With creation of the diagnosis-related group (DRG) 559, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays hospitals approximately US $6000 more per case when thrombolysis is administered. We sought to determine the total cost of, and reimbursement for, acute stroke treatment with thrombolysis at a single stroke center and the economic impact of DRG 559.


Between September 2001 and December 2004, we collected data on all patients with acute stroke who received thrombolysis. We identified all hospital costs and reimbursement per patient. Financial results were expressed as a cost-reimbursement ratio: average total cost to average total reimbursement per patient. We then reanalyzed data using the projected Medicare hospital reimbursement with DRG 559.


Sixty-seven patients with stroke (mean age, 72 years) were treated (mean length of stay, 4.4 days; mean stroke severity, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score of 15; and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage rate, 7%). The cost-reimbursement ratio was 1.41 (95% CI=0.98 to 2.28) before DRG 559 and estimated to be 0.82 (95% CI=0.66 to 0.97) after DRG 559.


Our hospital costs have traditionally exceeded Medicare reimbursement for the acute care of thrombolyzed patients with ischemic stroke, but with DRG 559, a new economically favorable cost-reimbursement ratio for hospitals will be established.

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