Background: Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) poses a considerable healthcare burden, but little is known about trends in directly attributable hospital utilization. Objective: We aimed to study national trends in healthcare utilization and outcomes among hospitalized MPE patients. Methods: We analyzed adult hospitalizations attributable to MPE using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project – National Inpatient Sample (HCUP-NIS) databases from 2004, 2009, and 2014. Cases were included if MPE was coded as the principal admission diagnosis or if unspecified pleural effusion was coded as the principal admission diagnosis in the setting of metastatic cancer. Annual hospitalizations were estimated for the entire US hospital population using discharge weights. Length of stay (LOS), hospital charges, and hospital mortality were also estimated. Results: We analyzed 92,034 hospital discharges spanning a decade (2004–2014). Yearly hospitalizations steadily decreased from 38,865 to 23,965 during this time frame, the mean LOS decreased from 7.7 to 6.3 days, and the adjusted hospital mortality decreased from 7.9 to 4.5% (p = 0.00 for all trend analyses). The number of pleurodesis procedures also decreased over time (p = 0.00). The mean inflation-adjusted charge per hospitalization rose from USD 41,252 to USD 56,951, but fewer hospitalizations drove the total annual charges down from USD 1.51 billion to USD 1.37 billion (p = 0.00 for both analyses). Conclusions: The burden of hospital-based resource utilization associated with MPE has decreased over time, with a reduction in attributable hospitalizations by one third in the span of 1 decade. Correspondingly, the number of inpatient pleurodesis procedures has decreased during this time frame.

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