Tallying the Costs of Dementia-Related Delirium

Hospitalized patients face increased one-year costs to Medicare, study finds

Illustration of a man standing looking at a brain balloon made of tangled black tape that looks like a road, on a gold background
Image: Cemile Bingol/Getty Images

 

New research by scientists at Harvard Medical School and Hebrew SeniorLife analyzing one-year health care costs for older hospitalized patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias found costs were higher for those who had delirium than for those who did not.  

This work, which examined costs not previously studied, found increased one-year Medicare costs of $34,828 in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias patients with delirium versus those without, and found that increased costs for delirium in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias occurred later during the 365-day study period.

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In patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, cost differences between those with and without delirium increased over one year after hospitalization. In patients without Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, the parallel cost differences were consistent over time after hospitalization. 

“Our findings suggest an increasing cost difference across one year for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias patients with delirium compared to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias patients without delirium,” said Tammy Hshieh, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant scientist at Hebrew SeniorLife.