Hospitalists' awareness of inpatient charges for services and tests

Hospitalists are not very aware of the charges for various services they provide, or tests they order, according to recent data.


Hospitalists are not very aware of the charges for various services they provide, or tests they order, according to data published in the May/June Journal of Hospital Medicine . If hospitalists are to succeed in improving cost efficiency, greater efforts may be needed to educate them about inpatient charges, the study authors wrote.

Fast Facts

  • Only 10.8% of hospitalists' cost estimates were within 10% of the actual unadjusted charge; 17.8% were within 20% of the charges; and 24.8% were within 30%.
  • Hospitalists' estimates of the charges of relatively expensive items, like abdominal CT scans, overlapped with their estimates of the least expensive items, like urine cultures.
  • The range of estimates different hospitalists made about the same care items in the same facilities was very broad.
  • Dollar values aside, hospitalists tended to rank the expense of various items in roughly the correct order.
  • “Admission services” was the care service with the highest percentage of charge estimates within 30% accuracy, at 52%.
  • CT scan of the abdomen was the care service with the lowest percentage of charge estimates within 30% of accuracy, at 4%.
  • The range of charge estimates for a complete metabolic panel was $15 to $1,200. The actual unadjusted charge was $37.
  • The range of charge estimates for a 125-mg dose of IV methylprednisolone was $3 to $200. The actual unadjusted charge was $26.63.
  • The mean estimate that came the closest to the actual unadjusted charge was for a 500-mg oral dose of levofloxacin. The mean estimate was $25 and the actual unadjusted charge was $29.78. The second-closest estimate was for urinalysis with microscopy. The mean estimate was $53, while the unadjusted charge was $37.