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High end of life health care costs and hospitalization burden in inflammatory bowel disease patients: a population-based study

Murthy SK, James PD, Antonova L, Chalifoux M, Tanuseputro P. PLoS One. 2017; 12(5):e0177211. Epub 2017 May 12.


Background — End of life (EOL) care is associated with greater costs, particularly for acute care services. In patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), EOL costs may be accentuated due to reliance on hospital-based services and expensive diagnostic tests and treatments. We aimed to compare EOL health care use and costs between IBD and non-IBD decedents.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all decedents of Ontario, Canada between 2010 and 2013 using linked health administrative data. IBD (N = 2,214) and non-IBD (N = 262,540) decedents were compared on total direct health care costs in the last year of life and hospitalization time during the last 90 days of life.

Results — During the last 90 days of life, IBD patients spent an average of 16 days in hospital, equal to 2.1 greater adjusted hospital days (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5–2.8 days) than non-IBD patients. IBD diagnosis was associated with $7,210 CAD (95% CI $5,005 - $9,464) higher adjusted per-patient cost in the last year of life, of which 76% was due to excess hospitalization costs. EOL cost of IBD care was higher than 15 of 16 studied chronic conditions. Health care costs rose sharply in the last 90 days of life, primarily due to escalating hospitalization costs.

Conclusions — IBD patients spend more time in hospital and incur substantially greater health care costs than other decedents as they approach the EOL. These excess costs could be curtailed through avoidance of unnecessary hospitalizations and expensive treatments in the setting of irreversible deterioration.

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Keywords: Palliative care/End-of-life care Health care costs Hospitalization

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