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To determine the clinical efficacy, patient volume, and program costs that justify pediatric intraosseous (IO) infusion as a routine skill for the treatment of patients with cardiac arrest in a prehospital system.
A decision analytic model was constructed to include patient outcomes and costs to society. Critical variables for the analysis were: 1) time to vascular access; 2) success of vascular access; 3) clinical efficacy (i.e., the percentage of lives saved by early vascular access); 4) number of patients requiring IO annually; and 5) the cost of an IO program. Program costs included training and equipment expenses. Sensitivity analysis, which repeatedly evaluates the model using different values for the critical variables, identified those values at which IO would be cost-effective.
With an estimated 80% success rate for IO access within five minutes, the cost-per-life-saved would be [US] $161,000. This cost-effectiveness ratio assumed annual program expenses of $2,000 and one patient per year needing IO. The cost-effectiveness ratio also required a clinical efficacy of 2% for vascular access. To prove that the clinical efficacy of vascular access is in fact 2%, epidemiologic studies would require a sample of nearly 9,000 patients.
This analysis suggests IO probably is cost-effective given a clinical efficacy above 2%. While the true efficacy may be below this value, clinical studies are unlikely to have sufficient size to prove it. Therefore, emergency medical services (EMS) medical directors must make the decision to utilize IO based on their own beliefs about its clinical efficacy. Further, it must be considered in the context of other prehospital programs which may be more cost-effective. Such analyses permit establishment of rational priorities to rank programs in prehospital systems.
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