AIM: In this study our aim was to evaluate the nosocomial infections and to understand factors affecting the cost of used antibiotics in palliative care unit.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 2016 and 2017, 113 patients were included in the study in palliative care unit of University of Health Sciences Bursa Yuksek Ihtisas Research and Training Hospital. Patients medical records were analyzed retrospectively for nosocomial infections, chronic diseases, presence of decubitis ulcers, opioid use, enteral, parenteral feedings, mortality and antibiotic cost.
RESULTS: Nosocomial infections were observed in 74.3% of the cases and 92.0% of patients used antibiotics. The mean duration of antibiotic use was 23.13 ± 18.06 days; and the average antibiotic cost was 2009.72 ± 2153.37 TL. Length of stay, male sex, presence of decubitus ulcers, tracheostomy, enteral and parenteral nutrition significantly increased antibiotic cost. Antibiotic cost and mortality were not related statistically.
CONCLUSIONS: A vicious circle in palliative care involves the following order: length of stay, increased rate of infection, use of antibiotics, infection with resistant microorganisms, use of broad spectrum antibiotics, increased length of stay; all affecting each other. Therefore, using antibiotics for aggressive treatment of infections in palliative care is contraindicated as it opposes to real philosophy of palliative care.
BACKGROUND: In rural communities, providing hospice care can be a challenge. Hospice personnel sometimes travel great distances to reach patients, resulting in difficulty maintaining access, quality, cost-effectiveness, and safety. In 1998, the University of Kansas Medical Center piloted the country's first TeleHospice (TH) service. At that time, challenges with broad adoption due to cost and attitudes regarding technology were noted. A second TH project was launched in early 2017 using newer technology; this article updates that ongoing implementation.
METHODS: The Organizational Change Manager was followed for the guided selection of the hospice partner. The University of Kansas Medical Center partnered with Hospice Services, Inc. (HSI), a leader in rural hospice care, providing services to 16 Kansas counties. Along with mobile tablets, a secure cloud-based videoconferencing solution was chosen for ease of use.
RESULTS: From August 2017 through January 2018, 218 TH videoconferencing encounters including 917 attendees occurred. Calls were made for direct patient care, family support, and administrative purposes. These TH calls have been shown to save HSI money, and initial reports suggest they may strengthen the communication and relationships between staff, patients, and the patient's family.
CONCLUSION: Finding innovative, cost-effective, and community-driven approaches such as TH are needed to continually advance hospice care. TeleHospice's potential to supplement and improve hospice services while reducing costs is significant, but continued research is needed to understand best fit within frontier hospices, to inform future urban applications, and to address reimbursement.
As the Medicare program struggles to control expenditures, there is increased focus on opportunities to manage patient populations more efficiently and at a lower cost. A major source of expense for the Medicare program is beneficiaries at end of life. Estimates of the percentage of Medicare costs that arise from patients in the last year of life differ, ranging from 13% to 25%, depending on methods and assumptions. We analyze the most recently available Medicare Limited Data Set to update prior studies of end-of-life costs and examine different methods of performing this calculation. Based upon these findings, we conclude that higher estimates that take into account the spending over the 12 months leading up to death more accurately reflect the full cost of a patient's last year of life. Comparing current year costs of decedents with Medicare's current year costs understates the full budgetary impact of end-of-life patients. Because risk-taking entities such as Medicare Advantage plans and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) need to reduce costs while improving the quality of care, they should initiate programs to better manage the care of patients with serious or advanced illness. We also calculate costs for beneficiaries dying in different settings and conclude that more effective use of palliative care and hospice benefits offers a lower cost, higher quality alternative for patients at end of life.
Background.: Financial distress (FD) is common among patients with advanced cancer. Our purpose was to compare the frequency and intensity of FD and its associations with symptom distress and quality of life (QOL) in these patients in France and the U.S.
Materials and Methods: In this secondary analysis of two cross-sectional studies, we assessed data on 292 patients who received cancer care at a public hospital or a comprehensive cancer center in France (143 patients) or the U.S. (149 patients). Outpatients and hospitalized patients over 18 years of age with advanced lung or breast or colorectal or prostate cancer were included. Diagnosed cognitive disorder was considered a noninclusion criterion. Advanced cancer included relapse or metastasis or locally advanced cancer or at least a second-line chemotherapy regimen. Patients self-rated FD and assessed symptoms, psychosocial distress, and QOL on validated questionnaires.
Results: The average patient age was 59 years, and 144 (49%) were female. FD and high intensity were reported more frequently in U.S. patients than in French (respectively 129 [88%] vs. 74 [52%], p < .001; 100 [98%] vs. 48 [34%], p < .001,). QOL was rated higher by the U.S. patients than by the French (69 [SD, 18] vs. 63 [SD, 18], p = .003). French patients had more psychological symptoms such as anxiety (8 [SD, 4] vs. 6 [SD, 5], p = .008). Associations were found between FD and U.S. residence, FD and single status (0.907, p = .023), and FD and metastasis (1.538, p = .036). In contrast, negative associations were found between FD and older age (-0.052, p = .003) and FD and France residence (-3.376, p = .001).
Conclusion: Regardless of health care system, FD is frequent in patients with advanced cancer. U.S. patients were more likely to have FD than French patients but reported better QOL. Further research should focus on factors contributing to FD and opportunities for remediation.
OBJECTIVE: This observational study explores the association between palliative care (PC) involvement and high-cost imaging utilisation for patients with cancer patients during the last 3 months of life.
METHODS: Adult patients with cancer who died between 1 January 2012 and 31 May 2015 were identified. Referral to PC, intensity of PC service use, and non-emergent oncological imaging utilisation were determined. Associations between PC utilisation and proportion of patients imaged and mean number of studies per patient (mean imaging intensity (MII)) were assessed for the last 3 months and the last month of life. Similar analyses were performed for randomly matched case-control pairs (n = 197). Finally, the association between intensity of PC involvement and imaging utilisation was assessed.
RESULTS: 3784 patients were included, with 3523 (93%) never referred to PC and 261 (7%) seen by PC, largely before the last month of life (61%). Similar proportions of patients with and without PC referral were imaged during the last 3 months, while a greater proportion of patients with PC referral were imaged in the last month of life. PC involvement was not associated with significantly different MII during either time frame. In the matched-pairs analysis, a greater proportion of patients previously referred to PC received imaging in the period between the first PC encounter and death, and in the last month of life. MII remained similar between PC and non-PC groups. Finally, intensity of PC services was similar for imaged and non-imaged patients in the final 3 months and 1 month of life. During these time periods, increased PC intensity was not associated with decreased MII.
CONCLUSIONS: PC involvement in end-of-life oncological care was not associated with decreased use of non-emergent, high-cost imaging. The role of advanced imaging in the PC setting requires further investigation.
BACKGROUND: Health care expenditures (HCE) are known to steepen with increasing age, but the contributions of biological age, morbidity, or proximity to death as cost drivers are debated. Age-associated HCE growth can be studied across two dimensions: within fixed groups of persons with the same birth year followed over time (birth cohort), or the same age classes (e.g. 66 to 70 year olds) at different time points (age-class analysis). Using health insurance claims data including morbidity and mortality information, HCE growth was analyzed in Swiss mandatory health insurance for the years 1996 to 2011 and compared across the two age dimensions.
RESULTS: Deflated HCE were analyzed for 104,000 persons from three birth cohorts (1921-25, 1926-30, 1931-35). Two-part regression models were adjusted for proximity-to-death (death within same or next calendar year) and morbidity indicators (hospitalization, high drug expenditures, and pharmaceutical cost groups from 2006 onwards). When analyzing HCE growth within birth cohorts, controlling for survival and morbidity status decreased age-associated HCE estimates by 31% to 51% compared to crude age averages. The total HCE volume share of decedents rose from 19% to 31% in the 1931-35 birth cohort and from 28% to 51% for the 1921-25 birth cohort. The analysis of same age classes (e.g. 71-75 year olds) over different years revealed no HCE growth (steepening) in excess of deflation for groups aged 75 years or less, and only moderate HCE growth for those =76 years. For the 76+ age classes, the population fraction of decedents decreased by -3% (age 76-80) and -15% (age 81-85) over time, whilst the total HCE volume share of decedent-associated HCE increased by +16% and +9%, with an HCE growth of +3.2% and +2.5% per year.
CONCLUSIONS: HCE growth was dominated by end-of-life HCE, but residual age-associated HCE growth remained pertinent, the extent of which however depended on morbidity indicator definitions. A better understanding of shifts in chronic disease prevalence with rising age, as well as associated HCE and survival impacts of treatment will be key for further refining future HCE projections.
OBJECTIVE: To describe disparities in patterns of hospice use and end-of-life costs among ovarian cancer patients.
METHODS: Using Texas Cancer Registry-Medicare data, ovarian cancer patients deceased 2005-2012 with >12 months of continuous Medicare coverage before death were included. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regressions were used to evaluate patterns of hospice use. Cost and resource utilization was obtained from Medicare claims and analyzed using a non-parametric Mann-Whitney test.
RESULTS: 2331 patients were assessed: 1788 (77%) white, 359 (15%) Hispanic, 158 (7%) black and 26 (1%) other. 1756 (75%) enrolled in hospice prior to death but only 1580 (68%) died with hospice. 176 (10%) of 1756 patients unenrolled and died without hospice. 346 (20%) unenrolled from hospice multiple times. From 2008 to 2012, patients were less likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death. Black patients were more likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death (OR 2.07 [1.15-3.73]; p = 0.02) compared to white patients. The median amount paid by Medicare during the last six months of life was $38,530 for those in hospice compared to $49,942 if never enrolled in hospice (p < 0.0001) and was higher for black and Hispanic patients compared to white patients. 30% hospice unenrolled patients and 40% multiply enrolled hospice patients received at least one life extending or invasive care procedure following unenrollment from hospice.
CONCLUSION: Recently, more patients remain enrolled in hospice, but black patients have a higher risk of unenrollment. Hospice enrollment was associated with lower costs as long as a patient did not unenroll from hospice.
OBJECTIVES: Use of intensive care is increasing in the United States and may be associated with high financial burden on patients and their families near the end of life. Our objective was to estimate out-of-pocket costs in the last year of life for individuals who required intensive care in the months prior to death and examine how these costs vary by insurance coverage.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study using seven waves of post-death interview data (2002-2014).
PARTICIPANTS: Decedents (n = 2,909) who spent time in the ICU at some point between their last interview and death.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Two-part models were used to estimate out-of-pocket costs for direct medical care and health-related services by type of care and insurance coverage. Decedents with only traditional Medicare fee-for-service coverage have the highest out-of-pocket spending in the last year of life, estimated at $12,668 (95% CI, $9,744-15,592), second to only the uninsured. Medicare Advantage and private insurance provide slightly more comprehensive coverage. Individuals who spend-down to Medicaid coverage have 4× the out-of-pocket spending as those continuously on Medicaid.
CONCLUSIONS: Across all categories of insurance coverage, out-of-pocket spending in the last 12 months of life is high and represents a significant portion of assets for many patients requiring intensive care and their families. Medicare fee-for-service alone does not insulate individuals from the financial burden of high-intensity care, due to lack of an out-of-pocket maximum and a relatively high co-payment for hospitalizations. Medicaid plays an important role in the social safety net, providing the most complete hospital coverage of all the insurance groups, as well as significantly financing long-term care.
OBJECTIVES: Uncontrolled pain in advanced cancer is a common problem and has significant impact on individuals' quality of life and use of healthcare resources. Interventions to help manage pain at the end of life are available, but there is limited economic evidence to support their wider implementation. We conducted a case study economic evaluation of two pain self-management interventions (PainCheck and Tackling Cancer Pain Toolkit [TCPT]) compared with usual care.
METHODS: We generated a decision-analytic model to facilitate the evaluation. This modelled the survival of individuals at the end of life as they moved through pain severity categories. Intervention effectiveness was based on published meta-analyses results. The evaluation was conducted from the perspective of the U.K. health service provider and reported cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY).
RESULTS: PainCheck and TCPT were cheaper (respective incremental costs -GBP148 [-EUR168.53] and -GBP474 [-EUR539.74]) and more effective (respective incremental QALYs of 0.010 and 0.013) than usual care. There was a 65 percent and 99.5 percent chance of cost-effectiveness for PainCheck and TCPT, respectively. Results were relatively robust to sensitivity analyses. The most important driver of cost-effectiveness was level of pain reduction (intervention effectiveness). Although cost savings were modest per patient, these were considerable when accounting for the number of potential intervention beneficiaries.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational and monitoring/feedback interventions have the potential to be cost-effective. Economic evaluations based on estimates of effectiveness from published meta-analyses and using a decision modeling approach can support commissioning decisions and implementation of pain management strategies.
Objective This study aimed to define the end-of-life (EOL) healthcare utilisation and its cost and determinants for cancer patients and to proactively inform related strategies in mainland China.
Design A population-based retrospective study.
Setting and participants Data from 894 cancer patients were collected in urban Yichang, China from 01 July 2015 to 30 June 2017.
Outcome measures Emergency department (ED) visits, outpatient and inpatient hospitalisation services, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and total costs were used as the main outcomes.
Results In this study, 66.8% of the 894 patients were male, and the average age was 60.4 years. Among these patients, 37.6% died at home, and patients had an average of 4.86 outpatient services, 2.23 inpatient hospitalisation services and 1.44 ED visits. Additionally, 5.9% of these patients visited the ICU at least once. During the EOL periods, the costs in the last 6 months, 3 months, 1 month and 1 week were US$18 234, US$13 043, US$6349 and US$2085, respectively. The cost increased dramatically as death approached. The estimation results of generalised linear regression models showed that aggressive care substantially affected expenditure. Patients with Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance spent more than those with Urban Resident-based Basic Medical Insurance or the New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme. The place of death and the survival time are also risk factors for increased EOL cost.
Conclusion The findings suggested that the EOL cost for cancer patients is associated with aggressive care, insurance type and survival time. Timing palliative care is urgently needed to address ineffective and irrational healthcare utilisation and to reduce costs.
Ethics and dissemination This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (IORG No.: IORG0003571). All the data used in this study were de-identified.
OBJECTIVES: Palliative care services have the potential to improve the quality of end-of-life care and reduce cost. Services such as the Medicare hospice benefit, however, are often underutilized among stroke patients with a poor prognosis. We tested the hypothesis that the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) is associated with increased hospice enrollment and inpatient comfort measures only among incident ischemic stroke patients with a high mortality risk.
DESIGN: A difference-in-differences design was used to compare outcomes before and after hospital participation in the MSSP for patients discharged from MSSP hospitals (N = 273) vs non-MSSP hospitals (N = 1490).
SETTING: Records from a national registry, Get with the Guidelines (GWTG)-Stroke, were linked to Medicare hospice claims (2010-2015).
PARTICIPANTS: Fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older hospitalized for incident ischemic stroke at a GWTG-Stroke hospital from January 2010 to December 2014 (N = 324 959).
INTERVENTION: Discharge from an MSSP hospital or beneficiary alignment with an MSSP Accountable Care Organization (ACO).
MEASUREMENTS: Hospice enrollment in the year following stroke.
RESULTS: Among patients with high mortality risk, ACO alignment was associated with a 16% increase in odds of hospice enrollment (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06-1.26), increasing the probability of hospice enrollment from 20% to 22%. In the low mortality risk group, discharge from an MSSP vs non-MSSP hospital was associated with a decrease in the predicted probability of inpatient comfort measures or discharge to hospice from 9% to 8% (OR = .82; CI = .74-.91), and ACO alignment was associated with reduced odds of a short stay (<7 days) (OR = .86; CI = .77-.96).
CONCLUSION: Among ischemic stroke patients with severe stroke or indicators of high mortality risk, MSSP was associated with increased hospice enrollment. MSSP contract incentives may motivate improved end-of-life care among the subgroups most likely to benefit.
BACKGROUND: Evidence regarding the impact of early palliative family conferences (PFCs) and decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment (DTW) on healthcare costs in an intensive care unit (ICU) setting is inconsistent.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed patients who died in an ICU from 2013 to 2016. PFCs held within 7 days after ICU admission and DTWs were verified by reviewing medical records and claims data. Comparisons were first made between patients with and without DTWs, and secondly, between DTW patients with and without PFCs within 7 days. Propensity score matching methods were used to examine the difference in costs between patients with and without DTWs and PFCs within 7 days.
RESULTS: Of the 579 patients included, those with DTWs (n = 73) had a longer ICU stay than those without (n = 506) (12.9 ± 7.1 vs. 8.4 ± 9.6 days, p < 0.001). The DTW patients were more likely to have a "do-not-resuscitate" order (p < 0.001) and PFCs within 7 days (p < 0.001) and had lower healthcare costs (USD 7358 ± 4116 vs. 8669 ± 9,535, p = 0.038). After matching, healthcare cost reduction for patients with DTWs, compared with those without DTWs, was USD 3467 [95% CI, 915-6019] (p < 0.001). Compared with DTW patients without PFCs within 7 days, the costs for DTW patients with PFCs within 7 days further reduced to USD 3042 [95%CI, 1358-4725] (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative family conferences held within 7 days after ICU admission with decisions to withdraw life-sustaining treatments significantly lowered healthcare costs.
BACKGROUND: While bereavement is associated with increased mortality, it is unclear how bereaved families utilize the healthcare system after the death of their loved ones.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the association between bereavement and healthcare expenditures for surviving spouses.
METHODS: We used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative cohort study of older adults linked to Medicare claims. We determined a spouse's total Medicare expenditures 2 years before and after their partner's death across six biennial interview waves. Using coarsened exact matching, we created a comparison group of non-bereaved dyads. Costs were wage index- and inflation-adjusted to 2017 dollars. We used generalized linear models and difference-in-differences (DID) analysis to calculate the average marginal effects of bereavement on Medicare spending by gender. We also examined subgroup differences based on caregiver status, cause of death, and length of terminal illness.
RESULTS: Our sample consisted of 941 bereaved dyads and a comparison group of 8899 matched dyads. Surviving female spouses (68% of the sample) had a $3500 increase in spending 2 years after death (p < 0.05). Using DID analyses, bereavement was associated with a $625 quarterly increase in Medicare expenditures over 2 years for women. There was no significant increase in post-death spending for male bereaved surviving spouses. Results were consistent for spouses who survived at least 2 years after the death of their spouse (70% of the sample)
CONCLUSIONS: Bereavement is associated with increased healthcare spending for women regardless of their caregiving status, the cause of death, or length of terminal illness. Further study is required to examine why men and women have different patterns of healthcare spending relative to the death of their spouses.
BACKGROUND: Hospital-based palliative care consultation is consistently associated with reduced hospitalization costs and more importantly with improved patient quality of life. As healthcare systems move toward value-based purchasing rather than fee-for-service models, understanding how palliative care consultation is associated with value-based purchasing metrics can provide evidence for expanded health system support for a greater palliative care presence.
AIM: To understand how a palliative care consultation impacts rates of patient readmission and hospital-acquired infections associated with value-based purchasing metrics.
DESIGN: Retrospective propensity-matched case-control study evaluating the impact of palliative care consultation on hospital charges, hospital and intensive care unit length of stay, readmission rates, and rates of hospital-acquired conditions.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: All adult patients admitted to a two hospital healthcare system over a 2-year period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2017. The palliative care team involved three physicians, five advanced practice providers, a social worker, and a chaplain during the study period.
RESULTS: A total of 3415 patients receiving a palliative consult were propensity matched to 25,028 controls. Compared to controls, cases had decreased charges per day and decreased rates of 7-, 30-, and 90-day readmissions.
CONCLUSION: Through value-based purchasing, hospitals have 3% of their Medicare reimbursements at risk based on readmission rates. By clarifying prognosis and patient goals, palliative care consultation reduces readmission rates. Hospital systems may want to invest in larger palliative care programs as part of their efforts to reduce hospital readmissions.
Palliative Care and its medical subspecialty, known as Palliative Medicine, is the care of anyone with a serious illness. This emerging field includes Hospice and comfort care, however, it is not limited to end-of-life care. Examples of the types of serious illness that Palliative Medicine clinicians care for include and are not limited to hematologic and oncologic diseases, such as cancer, advanced heart and lung diseases (e.g., congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), advanced liver and kidney diseases, and advanced neurologic illnesses (e.g., Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease). In the past decade, there has been tremendous growth of Palliative Medicine programs across the country. As the population of patients with serious illnesses increases, there is growing concentration on quality of care, including symptom management, meeting patients' goals regarding their medical care and providing various types of support, all of which are provided by Palliative Medicine. In this review article we define Palliative Medicine, describe care pathways and their applicability to Palliative Medicine, identify different models for Palliative Care and provide evidence for its impact on cost and quality of care.
BACKGROUND: Access to community-based specialist palliative care teams has been shown to improve patients' quality of life; however, the impact on health system expenditures is unclear. This study aimed to determine whether exposure to these teams reduces health system costs compared with usual care.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective matched cohort study in Ontario, Canada, using linked administrative data. Decedents treated by 1 of 11 community-based specialist palliative care teams in 2009/10 and 2010/11 (the exposed group) were propensity score matched (comorbidity, extent of home care, etc.) 1 to 1 to similar decedents in usual care (the unexposed group). The teams are comprised of a core group of specialized physicians, nurses and other providers; their role is to manage symptoms around the clock, provide education and coordinate care. Our primary outcome was the overall difference in health system costs (among 5 health care sectors) between all matched pairs of exposed versus unexposed patients in the last 30 days of life.
RESULTS: The total cohort of decedents included 3109 matched pairs. Among matched pairs, the mean health system cost difference was $512 (95% confidence interval [CI] -$641 to -$383) lower in the last 30 days among exposed than among unexposed patients. In the last 30 days, the mean home care costs of the exposed group were $189 higher (95% CI -$151 to $227) than those of the unexposed group, but their mean hospital costs were $733 lower (95% CI -$950 to -$516).
INTERPRETATION: Our study suggests that health system costs are lower for patients who have access to community-based specialist teams than for those who receive usual care alone, largely because of decreased hospital costs. Ensuring access to in-home palliative care support, as provided by these teams, is an efficacious strategy for reducing health care expenditures at the end of life.
End stage liver disease (ESLD) is increasing in incidence, resulting in a greater burden on the healthcare system, which is estimated to cost over 2 billion United States dollars each year.(3) Unfortunately, many of these expenditures fail to meaningfully improve or prolong life for patients.(4) In addition to these costs, patients with ESLD suffer a high burden of symptoms and invasive procedures, even when death may be imminent.
Inequality in wealth among elderly households, and in particular the prevalence of very low wealth holdings, can be an important consideration in the design of social insurance programs. This paper examines the incidence and determinants of low levels of financial and total wealth using repeated cross-sections of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and a small longitudinal sample of HRS respondents observed both at age 65 and shortly before death. Most of those who report very low wealth holdings at the end of their life had little wealth at the traditional retirement age of 65. There is strong persistence over time in reports of very low wealth, and more generally relatively little evidence that wealth is drawn down in the first 15 years of retirement. The age-specific probability of reporting low wealth increases slowly after age 65. Low lifetime earnings are strongly predictive of low wealth at retirement and at the end of life. The post-retirement onset of a major medical condition, and, for married women, the loss of their spouse, are both associated with small increases in the probability of reporting very low wealth, but they account for a small fraction of low-wealth outcomes. Low levels of wealth accumulation before age 65, rather than gaps in the safety net after 65 or rapid spend-down of accumulated assets, appear to be the primary determinant of low levels of wealth just before death.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) have progressively complex medical needs. However, little is known about their end of life health care utilization or associated costs. We performed a population-based study to evaluate the end of life direct utilization and costs for patients with ESLD among health care sectors in the province of Ontario.
METHODS: We used linked Ontario health administrative databases to conduct a population-based retrospective cohort study of all decedents from April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2013. Patients with ESLD were compared to patients without ESLD with regard to total health care utilization and costs in the last year and last 90 days of life.
RESULTS: The median age at death was significantly lower for ESLD decedents (65 years; inter-quartile range, 56-75 years) than for individuals without ESLD (80 years; inter-quartile range, 68-88 years). The median cost in the last year of life was significantly greater for patients with ESLD ($51,235 vs $44,456 without ESLD) (P<.001). Median ESLD end of life care costs also significantly exceeded those associated with 4 of the 5 most resource-intensive chronic conditions ($69,040 for ESLD vs $59,088 for non-ESLD) (P<.001). Cost differences were most pronounced in the final 90 days of life. During this period, patients with ESLD spent 4.7 more days in the hospital (95% CI, 4.3-5.1) than patients without ESLD (P<.0001), had significantly higher odds of dying in an institutional setting (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.7-1.9) (P<.0001), and incurred an additional $4201 in costs (95% CI, $3384-$5019; P<.0001).
CONCLUSION: In a population-based study in Canada, we found that patients with ESLD incur significantly higher end of life care costs than decedents without ESLD, predominantly due to increased time in hospital during the final 90 days of life.
Terminal secretions is a common symptom seen in hospice patients. Antimuscarinic drugs are commonly used to treat this symptom despite a lack of supporting data. Wide variability in cost exists among these treatments. Hospice program data were assessed to identify high-use and high-cost medications. An educational intervention (EI) was developed to target one such medication, transdermal scopolamine. The EI focused on efficacy, safety, and actual cost (by unit and total expenditure) for each possible treatment of terminal secretions. Following the EI, drug utilization data was re-evaluated. Prior to the deployment of the EI, total monthly hospice drug costs averaged $91,405 (SD 1,444) with an average drug cost per patient per day of $11.42 (SD 0.54). Monthly costs of drugs frequently employed to treat terminal secretions averaged $7,187.67 (SD 2,253) pre-intervention. Following the EI, monthly drug costs decreased 22.5%, average daily patient drug costs decreased 11.1%, and total anti-secretion costs decreased 28.5% after adjusting for difference in census. Education regarding the use and cost of medications to treat symptoms at end-of-life in hospice patients can be an intervention used to lead to significant cost savings to hospice organizations while maintaining appropriate symptom management for patients. Future interventions to target additional high-cost medications are warranted.