Hospitalized cancer patients with severe sepsis: analysis of incidence, mortality, and associated costs of care
BACKGROUND The use of High-dose chemotherapy (HDC) with peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) rescue in the treatment of solid tumors is controversial, and may be an important determinant of HDC and PBSC use in the future. Until the use of these procedures is proven through disease-free survival and overall survival compared with standard-dose chemotherapy, the associated cost is also under discussion. PATIENTS AND METHODS We evaluate 27 consecutive patients with solid tumors who underwent HDC and PBSC rescue, through an accurate review of medical records and cost estimate for each patient. RESULTS Median age was 45 years. Fifteen had breast cancer, six non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and six other solid tumors. The mean hospital length of stay was 21 days and mean cost was 21,445 US dollars (21,232 euro). Mean cost was clearly lower for the 9 patients treated within phase III trials, 17,571 US dollars (17,747 euro) than for the remaining 18 patients, treated in phase I-II trials, 22,747 US dollars (22,975 euro) (P < 0.001). The distribution of costs shows that wages and pharmacy account for 72% of total cost. The distribution of pharmacy costs per patient shows that chemotherapy (56% of pharmacy costs) and antibiotics (26%) account for most of the cost of medication. CONCLUSIONS Our cost estimates agree with those of most countries with national health insurance programs, and are lower than those from the USA. As wages and pharmacy account for more than 70% of the costs, the great different among the costs estimates compared are due essentialy to doctors fees or salary and drugs utilization. Anyway, taking HDC with PBSC rescue as a model for a therapy that is more aggressive than standard, and that is associated to a possible survival improvement in indications such as relapsed high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, an adequate cost analysis is crucial both to measure cost-effectiveness and to establish payment to health care providers.