More than $100,000 spent on hospitalizations in South Carolina
SOUTH CAROLINA — More than $140,000 was spent on emergency room visits in South Carolinas hospitals for pneumonia, fevers and other health care emergencies in 2015, according to data provided by the state’s health department.
The data, released Tuesday by the Department of Health, show hospitalizations for pneumonia ranged from $20 to $99, with fevers ranging from $17 to $76.
In contrast, the department found only one such incident in 2014, and two cases in 2013.
A spokesman for the department, Mike Blevins, said it is the first time the state has seen the number of such incidents in a single year.
He said the data was provided to the state legislature in an effort to shed light on what the costs of care could be in the future.
The Department of Public Health did not release the number or the dates of each hospitalization, citing patient privacy laws.
But Blevin said in an email that the department would continue to release such data to the public.
South Carolina has seen an uptick in respiratory infections, particularly among older people and the homeless.
Blevens said the state is working with health care providers to increase the availability of air-quality monitoring devices, and plans to increase staffing in those facilities.
Blevins said the department is also working to help state agencies identify which patients are likely to have pneumonia and to develop an early warning system for the disease.
He said the public health department would look into ways to provide incentives for health care facilities to treat respiratory infections earlier.
Health care costs have been rising steadily in South Dakota and Nevada in recent years.
In 2015, South Dakota’s overall spending for health costs rose by 7 percent to $2.4 billion, according the department.
Nevada’s health care spending rose 5 percent to about $2 billion.
South Dakota spent more than $5 billion on health care in 2016.
The department said its analysis of those figures did not include costs for ambulance services or nursing home visits.
In the South Dakota case, the patient was a 66-year-old woman with pneumonia, which was diagnosed at a hospital, the health department said.
She was admitted to the hospital and was discharged the following day, when she developed pneumonia again.
Blicher said the woman had previously developed pneumonia and died.
The hospital billed for a room and gown, but the bill included a $100 fee for an air-conditioning unit, the cost of which could have covered all of the air-sensor cost, Blevons said.
Blicher noted the hospital bill included the cost for an outside air-con unit that was not available in the patient’s room.