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Patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) (deep vein thrombosis [DVT] and pulmonary embolism [PE]) are commonly treated as outpatients. Traditionally, patients are anticoagulated with low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and warfarin, resulting in return visits to the ED. The direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) medications do not require therapeutic monitoring or repeat visits; however, they are more expensive. This study compared health costs, from the hospital and patient perspectives, between traditional versus DOAC therapy.
A chart review of VTE cases at two tertiary, urban hospitals from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012 was performed to capture historical practice in VTE management, using LMWH/warfarin. This historical data were compared against data derived from clinical trials, where a DOAC was used. Cost minimization analyses comparing the two modes of anticoagulation were completed from hospital and patient perspectives.
Of the 207 cases in the cohort, only 130 (63.2%) were therapeutically anticoagulated (international normalized ratio 2.0–3.0) at emergency department (ED) discharge; patients returned for a mean of 7.18 (range: 1–21) visits. Twenty-one (10%) were admitted to the hospital; 4 (1.9%) were related to VTE or anticoagulation complications. From a hospital perspective, a DOAC (in this case, rivaroxaban) had a total cost avoidance of $1,488.04 per VTE event, per patient. From a patient perspective, it would cost an additional $204.10 to $349.04 over 6 months, assuming no reimbursement.
VTE management in the ED has opportunities for improvement. A DOAC is a viable and cost-effective strategy for VTE treatment from a hospital perspective and, depending on patient characteristics and values, may also be an appropriate and cost-effective option from a patient perspective.
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