Cost of Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Hospitalization Skyrockets

The incidence of hospitalizations for pulmonary hypertension among children has doubled from 1997 to 2012 with associated costs growing to $3.12 billion.

Although pulmonary hypertension (PH) among children remains relatively rare, the incidence of hospitalizations for the condition doubled over 15 years with hospital charges skyrocketing, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

The researchers, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, studied the Kids Inpatient Database and determined that while children with PH accounted for just 0.13% of the 43 million pediatric hospitalizations in the US between 1997 and 2012, there was an increasing trend and charges for these hospitalizations grew from $926 million in 1997 to $3.12 billion in 2012.

“That there’s a growing population of pediatric pulmonary hypertension patients is something that we suspected but actually having the data to back it up will be important for resource allocation and promoting the best multidisciplinary care for these medically fragile patients,” Melanie K. Nies, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

She added that the reason for the increasing trend of hospitalization for pediatric patients with PH is not clear, but she surmised that better recognition of PH may be one cause. Although the condition has historically been associated in children mostly with congenital heart disease, that is no longer the case. The majority of children with PH (56.4%) did not have congenital heart disease.

In addition, while mortality remains high at 5.9%, it has decreased from 11.3% of hospitalizations in 1997.

“Shifts in case mix toward PH not associated with [congenital heart disease], toward noncardiac procedures, and toward care in urban teaching hospitals will increase pressure to manage resource utilization in this small but growing patient group and to improve expertise and define excellence in PH care across a wide range of clinical settings,” the authors concluded.