The cost-effectiveness of the decision to hospitalize nursing home residents with advanced dementia

Keith S Goldfeld, Mary Beth Hamel, Susan L Mitchell
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2013, 46 (5): 640-51

CONTEXT: Nursing home (NH) residents with advanced dementia commonly experience burdensome and costly hospitalizations that may not extend survival or improve quality of life. Cost-effectiveness analyses of decisions to hospitalize these residents have not been reported.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of 1) not having a do-not-hospitalize (DNH) order and 2) hospitalization for suspected pneumonia in NH residents with advanced dementia.

METHODS: NH residents from 22 NHs in the Boston area were followed in the Choices, Attitudes, and Strategies for Care of Advanced Dementia at the End-of-Life study conducted between February 2003 and February 2009. We conducted cost-effectiveness analyses of aggressive treatment strategies for advanced dementia residents living in NHs when they suffer from acute illness. Primary outcome measures included quality-adjusted life days (QALD) and quality-adjusted life years, Medicare expenditures, and incremental net benefits (INBs) over 15 months.

RESULTS: Compared with a less aggressive strategy of avoiding hospital transfer (i.e., having DNH orders), the strategy of hospitalization was associated with an incremental increase in Medicare expenditures of $5972 and an incremental gain in quality-adjusted survival of 3.7 QALD. Hospitalization for pneumonia was associated with an incremental increase in Medicare expenditures of $3697 and an incremental reduction in quality-adjusted survival of 9.7 QALD. At a willingness-to-pay level of $100,000/quality-adjusted life years, the INBs of the more aggressive treatment strategies were negative and, therefore, not cost effective (INB for not having a DNH order, -$4958 and INB for hospital transfer for pneumonia, -$6355).

CONCLUSION: Treatment strategies favoring hospitalization for NH residents with advanced dementia are not cost effective.


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