HealthDay News — Pediatric acute otitis media is associated with increased healthcare utilization and costs, adding approximately $2.88 billion in healthcare expense annually, study findings indicate. 

“The diagnosis of AOM confers a significant incremental health-care utilization burden on both patients and the healthcare system,” Sameer Ahmed, MD, from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues reported in The Laryngoscope, calling AOM a “significant health-care utilization concern.”

They extracted data on pediatric AOM cases from the 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which included information from 81.5 million children aged 9 years on average, and compared ambulatory visit rates, prescription refills and ambulatory healthcare costs for those with and without AOM.

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Approximately 8.7 million children in the sample were diagnosed with AOM (mean age, 5.3 years).

After adjusting for demographics and medical comorbidities, children with AOM had an additional two office visits, 0.2 emergency department visits and 1.6 prescription fills (P< 0.001 for all) per year compared to those without AOM, Ahmed and colleagues found.

AOM correlated with a $314 increase per child in outpatient healthcare costs annually (P<0.001), and with a $17 increase in patient medication costs (P<0.001). There was no increase in total prescription expenses associated with AOM ($13; P=0.766).

“Additional health care utilization in the form of physician visits to the clinic and emergency room, along with incremental increases in the total office-based expenditures and self-expenditures, clearly demonstrate that AOM remains a large public health concern in the United States,” the researchers concluded.


  1. Ahmed S et al. The Laryngoscope. 2014; 124: 301–305.