A new research synthesis from HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that the US could save nearly $2.5 billion a year by preventing hospitalisations due to severe diabetes complications.

Diabetes, an increasingly common chronic disease, currently affects 18 million Americans, or about 6 percent of the population. Complications from the disease that may require hospitalisation include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, as well as nerve and blood circulation problems that can lead to lower limb amputations. Complications can often be prevented or delayed with good primary care and compliance with the advice from providers.

According to the research synthesis, reducing hospital admissions for diabetes complications could save the Medicare program $1.3 billion annually and Medicaid $386 million a year. Nearly one-third of patients with diabetes were hospitalised two or more times in 2001 for diabetes or related conditions, and their costs averaged three times higher than those for patients with single hospital stays - $23,100 versus $8,500.

The risk of hospitalisation for cardiovascular disease was two to four times higher in women with diabetes than in those who did not have diabetes. Besides that, minorities and poor patients regardless of race or ethnicity were more likely to be hospitalised multiple times for diabetes complications than non-Hispanic white and higher income patients.

"These findings highlight the importance of carefully monitoring people with diabetes who have a prior admission for the disease to prevent repeat hospitalisations, improving the care of diabetic patients who also suffer from cardiovascular disease and enhancing treatment for minorities and low-income patients,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.

MEDICA.de; Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)