The aggregate total margin for acute-care hospitals was 4.2% in the first quarter of 2003, down from 5.8% in the year-ago quarter, according to the American Hospital Association's TrendWatch. Inpatient discharges and inpatient days each fell 1.7% from the year-ago quarter, the AHA report said. Outpatient visits dropped 0.8%, and emergency room visits decreased 5.1%. Hospital costs per case rose 8.4%. Lengths of stay continued to average 5.3 days, according to the AHA report. The report is based on hospital utilization and financial performance indicators collected by 37 state hospital associations. It includes responses from 900 hospitals. "It's a good indicator of the direction things may be going," said Don May, AHA vice president of policy. -- by Patrick Reilly
Hospitals' total margin falls in first quarter: AHA
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