The high cost of critical care unit over-utilization for patients with NSTE ACS.


Journal Article

There is substantial variability among hospitals in critical care unit (CCU) utilization for patients admitted with non-ST-Segment Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes (NSTE ACS). We estimated the potential cost saving if all hospitals adopted low CCU utilization practices for patients with NSTE ACS.National hospital claims data were used to identify all patients with a primary diagnosis of NSTE ACS initially admitted to an acute care hospital between 2007 and 2013. Hospital CCU utilization was classified as low (<30%), medium (30-70%), or high (>70%).Among the 270,564 NSTE ACS hospitalizations (71.6% non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction; 28.4% unstable angina) admitted to 261 hospitals, 41.9% (inter-hospital range 0.3%-95.1%) were admitted to a CCU. The proportion of patients admitted to a CCU in low, medium and high utilization hospitals was 16.3%, 49.5%, and high 81.1%, respectively. No differences in adjusted inpatient mortality were observed by hospital CCU utilization. The overall inpatient costs of caring for NSTE ACS were $1.1 billion. CCU care accounted for 45.2% of all hospitalization costs including 22.6%, 49.9%, and 69.0% (P < .001) of costs in low, medium and high utilization centers. The national potential direct cost savings of medium and high CCU utilization centers adopting low NSTE ACS CCU utilization practices was $113.4 million over the study period.In a population-based contemporary cohort, CCU utilization for patients with NSTE ACS varied widely and in-hospital mortality was similar between low, medium and high utilization centers. CCU care accounted for 45% of hospitalization costs; thus, implementing policies and admission practices to align hospital resources with patient care needs have the potential to reduce overall health care costs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • van Diepen, S; Tran, DT; Ezekowitz, JA; Zygun, DA; Katz, JN; Lopes, RD; Newby, LK; McAlister, FA; Kaul, P

Published Date

  • August 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 202 /

Start / End Page

  • 84 - 88

PubMed ID

  • 29906667

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29906667

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6744

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-8703

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ahj.2018.05.003


  • eng