Series of Avoidable Hospitalizations and Strengthening Primary Health Care: Primary Care Effectiveness and the Extent of Avoidable Hospitalizations in Latin America

Dec 2012
This study combines detailed datasets on 39.1 million hospital discharges in six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with summary statistics for the remaining countries in the region in order to estimate the number and economic effect of avoidable hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions in the region. We estimated the number of avoidable hospitalizations to be in a range between 8.1 and 10 million, with both visible costs of attention and hidden costs of opportunity representing as high as 2.5% of the reported total health expenditure in 2009. Among countries with low coverage and high poverty levels, these costs assume an even higher value in terms of wasted labor usage and resources spent. It briefly examines some policy implications of using data on hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions as a policy instrument for measuring the health system performance.