Hospital costs for drugs increased at a slower rate -- 22% -- between 2000 and 2002 than hospital costs for diagnostic imaging (36%), operating rooms (32%), intensive care (27%) and medical supplies (26%), according to a study by Solucient, a healthcare business research company. Of seven categories of inpatient care, costs grew more slowly only for laboratory services (18%) and room and board (16%). However, drug costs for certain patient groups climbed significantly; for example, hospital drug costs for patients with endocrine disorders nearly tripled between 2000 and 2002, rising to 15% of the average total hospital cost per patient from 6%. Changes in treatment technology may be driving the use of more costly drugs for certain patient groups, said David Foster, Solucient's vice president of clinical informatics and the study's lead researcher. The analysis examined pharmaceutical costs from 2000 through 2002. The database used included approximately 20 million discharges per year from nearly 2,500 hospitals across the nation. -- by Cinda Becker
Drugs aren't fastest-growing hospital cost: study
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