Effect of repair strategy on hospital cost for infants with tetralogy of Fallot.
OBJECTIVE: This study compares the total hospital cost (HC) for one-stage versus "two-stage" repair of tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) in infants younger than 1 year of age. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Total (one-stage) correction of TOF is now being performed with excellent results in infancy. Alternatively, a two-stage approach, with palliation of infants in the first year of life, followed by complete repair at a later time can be used. In some institutions, the two-stage approach is standard practice for infants younger than 1 year of age or is used selectively in patients with an anomalous coronary artery across the right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT), "small pulmonary arteries," multiple congenital anomalies, critical illnesses (CI), which increase the risk of bypass (e.g., sepsis or DIC), or severe hypercyanotic spells (HS) at the time of presentation. The cost implications of these two approaches are unknown. METHODS: The authors reviewed 22 patients younger than 1 year of age who underwent repair of TOF at their institution between 1993 and 1995. Eighteen patients had one-stage (1 degree) repair (mean age, 3.4 +/- 3.1 months; range, 3 days-9 months) and 4 patients were treated by a staged approach with initial palliation (1.6 +/- 0.4 month; range, 1.5-2 months) followed by later repair (14.75 +/- 1.5 months; range, 13-16 months). The reasons for palliation were severe HS at time of presentation (two patients), anomalous coronary artery (one patient) and CI (one patient). In the 18 patients undergoing 1 degree repair, 3 (16.6%) presented with HS, 6 (33.3%) had a transanular repair, and 6 (33.3%) were able to be repaired through an entirely transatrial approach (youngest patient, 1.5 months). The HC (1996 dollars) and hospital length of stay (LOS; days) were evaluated for all patients. The HCs were calculated using transition I, which is a cost accounting system used by our medical center since July 1992. Transition I provides complete data on all direct and indirect hospital-based, nonprofessional costs. RESULTS: There was no mortality in either group. The group undergoing 1 degree repair had an average LOS of 14.5 +/- 11.2 days compared to an average LOS for palliation of 14 +/- 6.4 days. When the palliated group returned for complete repair, the average LOS was 28.8 +/- 25 days, yielding a total LOS for the two-stage strategy of 43 +/- 30.8 days (p = 0.003 compared to 1 degree repair). The HC for 1 degree repair was $32,541 +/- $15,968 compared to $25,737 +/- $1900 for palliation (p = not significant compared to 1 degree repair) and $54,058 +/- $39,395 for subsequent complete repair (p = not significant compared to 1 degree repair) (total two-stage repair HC = $79,795 +/- $40,625; p = 0.001 compared to 1 degree repair). The LOS and HC for the two-stage group combine a total of palliation plus later repair and, as such, reflect two separate hospitalizations and convalescent periods. To eliminate cost outliers, a best-case analysis was performed by eliminating 50% of patients from each group. Using this analysis, the two-stage approach resulted in an average (total) LOS of 16.5 +/- 2.1 days compared to 8.5 +/- 1.4 days for the 1 degree group. Total cost for the two-stage strategy in this best-case group was $44,660 +/- $3645 compared to $22,360 +/- $3331 for 1 degree repair (p = 0.00001). CONCLUSIONS: The data from this review show that palliation alone generates HC similar to that from 1 degree infant repair of TOF, and total combined HC and LOS for palliation plus eventual repair of TOF (two-stage approach) are significantly higher than from 1 degree repair. Furthermore, these data do not include additional costs for care delivered between palliation and repair (e.g., outpatient visits, cardiac catheterization, serial echocardiography). Although there may be occasions when a strategy using initial palliation followed by later repair may seem prudent, the cost is clearly higher and use of health care resources greater.
Ungerleider, RM; Kanter, RJ; O'Laughlin, M; Bengur, AR; Anderson, PA; Herlong, JR; Li, J; Armstrong, BE; Tripp, ME; Garson, A; Meliones, JN; Jaggers, J; Sanders, SP; Greeley, WJ
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