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Am J Med. 2013 Feb;126(2):127-32. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.07.025.

Hospital costs of acute pulmonary embolism.

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Department of Pharmacy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Pulmonary embolism places a heavy economic burden on health care systems, but the components of hospital cost have not been elucidated. We evaluated hospitalized patients with the primary diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. Our goal was to determine the total and component costs associated with their hospital care.


We included patients hospitalized at Brigham and Women's Hospital from September 2003 to May 2010. Patient demographics, characteristics, comorbidities, interventions, and treatments were obtained from the electronic medical record. Costs were obtained using the hospital's accounting software and categorized into the areas providing direct patient supplies or care.


We identified 991 hospitalized patients with acute pulmonary embolism. In-hospital mortality was 4.2%, and 90-day mortality after hospital discharge was 13.8%. The median length of hospital stay was 3 days, and the mean length of hospital stay was 4 days. The mean total hospitalization cost per patient was $8764. Nursing costs, which included room and board, were $5102. Pharmacy ($966) and radiology ($963) costs were similar. Pharmacy costs ($966) were dominated by the use of low-molecular-weight heparin ($232). Radiology costs ($963) were dominated by the use of diagnostic imaging examinations ($672). During the observation period, an average of 160 patients with pulmonary embolism were admitted each year, requiring an annual hospital expense ranging from $884,814 to $1,866,489.


Pulmonary embolism has a high case fatality rate and remains an expensive illness to diagnose and treat. Nursing costs comprise the largest component of costs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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