Skagit County Trends Newsletter

SMALL CHANGES IN THE SHARES OF HOSPITALIZATIONS BY FOUR LEADING CAUSES -

Hospitals are the backbone to the health industry in any community. When an illness or injury needs the highest level of technology applied to the recovery, chances are great that his person will be admitted to the hospital.

While the reasons for admissions vary, simply looking at the top-4 reasons people are admitted to a hospital helps to identify the chronic conditions that occur frequently in a community that require attentive medical treatment and monitoring, which can be resource intensive.

People admitted to the hospital for childbirth are not included so this indicator focuses more on the more chronic health issues.

Skagit County has a relatively high median age (42.0 in 2016) compared to the state and nation (37.7 and 37.9, respectively), so this indicator might highlight more age-related health factors, but ultimately, that would be a difficult connection to make.

The top-4 causes for hospitalizations are the same in the count as they are in the state.

Digging into the Hospitalizations by Four Leading Causes indicator, the share of hospitalizations by the top-4 causes during 2016 in Skagit County with the largest increase since 2006 occurred in the respiratory diseases category, while the largest decreases occurred in unintentional injuries and digestive system diseases.

In the state, the largest decreases from 2006 to 2016 occurred

in respiratory diseases and the largest increases were found in unintentional injuries.

Compared to the state during 2016, the county had higher shares of the population who had been hospitalized for heart disease, respiratory diseases, and digestive diseases.

Skagit County had a lower share of residents than the state who had been hospitalized for an unintentional injury.

These changes, generally speaking, have occurred over time since the beginning of this series and are rather small.

The data source for this indicator, Amy Riffe, Epidemiologist with the Spokane County Regional Health Department, says "the information is gathered from inpatient hospitalizations…represent[ing] uncontrolled conditions or those with poor health. It is not a representation of the prevalence of say respiratory disease in the county."

So, instead of telling us what the major health issues are for an area, this indicator tells us more so what the chronic conditions are among the least healthy among the population. Moving forward, drastic changes won't occur, but little changes seen over the years are what is important to glean. If hospitalizations for a particular cause increase, it might be due to the aging population or something else. But this information allows us to know when changes are occurring and can help in the analysis of improving the overall public health.

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