January 23, 2013
1 min read

Fibromyalgia hospitalization costs for 9 years estimated near $1 billion

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Estimated hospitalization charges for fibromyalgia during a 9-year period in the United States totaled almost $1 billion, according to study results.

Using hospital discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, researchers reviewed an estimated 63,772 patients (FM; 68.6% women) hospitalized with fibromyalgia as the primary diagnosis from 1999 to 2007. Frequencies and mean inflation-adjusted charges were used to describe demographics and hospital characteristics. The medical care expenditures category of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers was used to adjust hospital charges to 2007 values for FM and non-FM patients. Procedures were categorized by standard classification.

In bivariate and multivariate analysis for FM and non-FM patients, hospital procedures and Charlson-Deyo Index (comorbidity severity) scores strongly predicted charges. From 1999 to 2007, total inflation-adjusted hospitalization charges for fibromyalgia were estimated to be $950 million (approximately $106 million annually). The average mean charge for hospitalization was $15,692 for FM.

Women had slightly higher mean hospitalization charges and slightly longer lengths of stay. For FM patients, the majority of hospital procedures were diagnostic and largely minor (87.3%), with most individual procedures related to musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal or cardiovascular systems. Most patients did not have a life-threatening comorbid illness.

Researchers described the “typical” FM patient as “a white woman in the 45-64 year age range, coming to the hospital through the ED for a problem that is not life threatening, ‘defined’ as an FM patient (ie, FM, a functional pain disorder, is the primary reason for hospitalization), likely not to undergo a hospital procedure, and be discharged ‘routinely,’ ” the researchers reported. They added that some patients with comorbid illness required more expensive inpatient procedures.

“FM is a difficult-to-treat functional pain disorder, which ideally should not require hospitalization,” the researchers concluded. “We have shown, however, that many FM patients still are hospitalized for non life-threatening FM symptoms. Perhaps, more effective outpatient treatment will … lower the overall and substantial cost of treatment.”