Hospital profitability rose in 2003, although admissions growth cooled and the aggregate number of days U.S. patients spent hospitalized fell for the first time since 1999, the American Hospital Association said. Hospitals' aggregate profit margin reached 4.8% in 2003, up from 4.4% in 2002, according to an AHA survey of financial and utilization data from 4,946 hospitals for fiscal 2003. Admissions rose less than 1%, compared with nearly 2% in each of the three previous years. The average length of stay in 2003 held steady at 5.7 days. However, the total number of days U.S. patients were hospitalized dipped to 196.65 million in 2003 from 196.69 million in 2002. Emergency room visits increased by 1%. The annual Hospital Statistics report included for the first time a snapshot of economic, labor, legislative and legal events that affected hospital operations that year. -- by Melanie Evans
Hospitals' profit margins approached 5% in 2003
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