The aim of this study was to analyze the national health care burden of patients diagnosed with epilepsy in the US and to analyze any changes in the length of stay, mean charges, in-hospital deaths (mortality), and disposition at discharge.
A retrospective review of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database for epilepsy admissions was completed for the years from 1993 to 2008. The NIS is maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and represents a 20% random stratified sample of all discharges from nonfederal hospitals within the US. Patients with epilepsy were identified using ICD-9 codes beginning with 345.XX. Approximately 1.1 million hospital admissions were identified over a span of 15 years.
Over this 15-year period (between 1993 and 2008), the average hospital charge per admission for patients with epilepsy has increased significantly (p < 0.001) from $10,050 to $23,909, an increase of 137.9%. This is in spite of a 33% decrease in average length of stay from 5.9 days to 3.9 days. There has been a decrease in the percentage of in-hospital deaths by 57.9% and an increase in discharge to outside medical institutions.
The total national charges associated with epilepsy in 2008 were in excess of $2.7 billion (US dollars, normalized). During the studied period, the cost per day for patients rose from $1703.39 to $6130.51. In spite of this drastic increase in health care cost to the patient, medical and surgical treatment for epilepsy has not changed significantly, and epilepsy remains a major source of morbidity.