JOURNAL ARTICLE

The use of a standardized PCT-algorithm reduces costs in intensive care in septic patients - a DRG-based simulation model

M H Wilke, R F Grube, K F Bodmann
European Journal of Medical Research 2011 December 2, 16 (12): 543-8
22112361

INTRODUCTION: The management of bloodstream infections especially sepsis is a difficult task. An optimal antibiotic therapy (ABX) is paramount for success. Procalcitonin (PCT) is a well investigated biomarker that allows close monitoring of the infection and management of ABX. It has proven to be a cost-efficient diagnostic tool. In Diagnoses Related Groups (DRG) based reimbursement systems, hospitals get only a fixed amount of money for certain treatments. Thus it's very important to obtain an optimal balance of clinical treatment and resource consumption namely the length of stay in hospital and especially in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We investigated which economic effects an optimized PCT-based algorithm for antibiotic management could have.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We collected inpatient episode data from 16 hospitals. These data contain administrative and clinical information such as length of stay, days in the ICU or diagnoses and procedures. From various RCTs and reviews there are different algorithms for the use of PCT to manage ABX published. Moreover RCTs and meta-analyses have proven possible savings in days of ABX (ABD) and length of stay in ICU (ICUD). As the meta-analyses use studies on different patient populations (pneumonia, sepsis, other bacterial infections), we undertook a short meta-analyses of 6 relevant studies investigating in sepsis or ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP). From this analyses we obtained savings in ABD and ICUD by calculating the weighted mean differences. Then we designed a new PCT-based algorithm using results from two very recent reviews. The algorithm contains evidence from several studies. From the patient data we calculated cost estimates using German National standard costing information for the German G-DRG system. We developed a simulation model where the possible savings and the extra costs for (in average) 8 PCT tests due to our algorithm were brought into equation.

RESULTS: We calculated ABD savings of 4 days and ICUD reductions of -1.8 days. Our algorithm contains recommendations for ABX onset (PCT ≥ 0.5 ng/ml), validation whether ABX is appropriate or not (Delta from day 2 to day 3 ≥ 30% indicates inappropriate ABX) and recommendations for discontinuing ABX (PCT ≤ 0.25 ng/ml). We received 278,264 episode datasets where we identified by computer-based selection 3,263 cases with sepsis. After excluding cases with length of stay (LOS) too short to achieve the intended savings, we ended with 1,312 cases with ICUD and 268 cases without ICUD. Average length of stay of ICU-patients was 27.7 ± 25.7 days and for Non-ICU patients 17.5 ± 14.6 days respectively. ICU patients had an average of 8.8 ± 8.7 ICUD. - After applying the simulation model on this population we calculated possible savings of Euro -1,163,000 for ICU-patients and Euro -36,512 for Non-ICU patients.

DISCUSSION: Our findings concerning the savings from the reduction of ABD are consistent with other publications. Savings ICUD had never been economically evaluated so far. Our algorithm is able to possibly set a new standard in PCT-based ABX. However the findings are based on data modelling. The algorithm will be implemented in 5-10 hospitals in 2012 and effects in clinical reality measured 6 months after implementation.

CONCLUSION: Managing sepsis with daily monitoring of PCT using our refined algorithm is suitable to save substantial costs in hospitals. Implementation in clinical routine settings will show how much of the calculated effect will be achieved in reality.

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