Thousands of Hawaii hospital patients who are placed on a waitlist to get care at another facility each year end up waiting too long.
These people, who are too sick to go home, but not sick enough to be considered acute care patients, end up in a sort of limbo — and limbo comes at a price for Hawaii.
Just-released Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC) data collected between 2006 and 2011 indicates that patients on waitlists in Hawaii cost $62.7 million in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.
The largest number of patients suffered from an infectious disease, with 1,284 waitlist discharges costing a total of $12,455,466, according to an analysis of the data.
The costliest disease is septicemia, a severe blood infection that can lead to organ failure or death, with those inflicted averaging 5.8 days on the waitlist. The total cost for treatment of “septicemia and disseminated infections” in 2011 was $4,730,077. (The data does not specify how many people were treated with that money.)
Overall, the patients, who range from newborns to the elderly, suffer from a wide array of afflictions. Approximately 65 percent of patients were covered by Medicare.
Experts say that the situation has changed little since 2011 and that getting people off of their waitlist remains an obstacle.
An HHIC statement about the problem helped to explain why.
“The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentall illness in managing their other medical conditions,” the HHIC statement said.
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