Preventable Hospitalizations

Preventable hospitalizations are admissions to hospitals which could be avoided through appropriate and timely outpatient care. The HCI Preventable Hospitalization indicator is the annual rate of these hospitalizations in people under 75 years of age per 100,000 people. Timely and appropriate outpatient care, along with other preventative actions, can often prevent the onset of illness or control a chronic condition. Factors related to preventable hospitalizations may include the quality of primary care available as well as cultural influences (e.g., diet, alcohol use, smoking) and environmental exposures (e.g., household allergens and indoor tobacco smoke) that affect the frequency of illness. Preventable hospitalization is an “inverse” measure as the higher the value, the greater the negative impact on community health. Posted with Health Systems and Public Safety, preventable hospitalization also impacts economic health, employment, environmental hazards, neighborhood characteristics, and education. Data on inpatient hospitalizations are available from the State Inpatient Databases (SID), a set of hospital databases from organizations in 46 participating states.

Key Citations:
1. CDC. Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations — United States, 2004–2007. MMWR. 2011 ; 60(01);80-83
2. Lui CK, Wallace SP. A common denominator: calculating hospitalization rates for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions in California. Prev Chronic Dis. 2011 Sep;8(5):A102. Epub 2011 Aug 15.
3. Ricketts TC, Randolph R, Howard HA, Pathman D, Carey T. Hospitalization rates as indicators of access to primary care. Health Place. 2001 Mar;7(1):27-38.
4. Rosano A, Abo Loha C, Falvo R, van der Zee J, Ricciardi W, Guasticchi G, de Belvis AG. The relationship between avoidable hospitalization and accessibility to primary care: a systematic review. Eur J Public Health. 2012 May 29. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Chew RB, Bryson CL, Au DH, Maciejewski ML, Bradley KA.Are smoking and alcohol misuse associated with subsequent hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions? J Behav Health Serv Res. 2011 Jan;38(1):3-15. doi: 10.1007/s11414-010-9215-x.
6. Preventable Hospitalizations in California (1999-2008). Available at:
7. Backus L, Bindman A. Effect of Managed Care on Preventable Hospitalization Rates in California. Medical Care. 2002; 40: 315-324.