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Objectives: Patient preferences should be a central consideration in healthcare decision making. However, stories of patients challenging regulatory and reimbursement decisions has led to questions on whether patient voices are being considered sufficiently during those decision making processes. This has led some to argue that it is necessary to quantify patient preferences before they can be adequately considered.
Methods: This study considers the lessons from the use of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) for efforts to quantify patient preferences. It defines MCDA and summarizes the benefits it can provide to decision makers, identifies examples of MCDAs that have involved patients, and summarizes good practice guidelines as they relate to quantifying patient preferences.
Results: The guidance developed to support the use of MCDA in healthcare provide some useful considerations for the quantification of patient preferences, namely that researchers should give appropriate consideration to: the heterogeneity of patient preferences, and its relevance to decision makers; the cognitive challenges posed by different elicitation methods; and validity of the results they produce. Furthermore, it is important to consider how the relevance of these considerations varies with the decision being supported.
Conclusions: The MCDA literature holds important lessons for how patient preferences should be quantified to support healthcare decision making.
This article provides practical ethical guidance for clinicians making decisions after a nuclear detonation, in advance of the full establishment of a coordinated response. We argue that the utilitarian maxim of the greatest good for the greatest number, interpreted only as “the most lives saved,” needs refinement. We take the philosophical position that utilitarian efficiency should be tempered by the principle of fairness in making decisions about providing lifesaving interventions and palliation. The most practical way to achieve these goals is to mirror the ethical precepts of routine clinical practice, in which 3 factors govern resource allocation: order of presentation, patient's medical need, and effectiveness of an intervention. Although these basic ethical standards do not change, priority is given in a crisis to those at highest need in whom interventions are expected to be effective. If available resources will not be effective in meeting the need, then it is unfair to expend them and they should be allocated to another patient with high need and greater expectation for survival if treated. As shortage becomes critical, thresholds for intervention become more stringent. Although the focus of providers will be on the victims of the event, the needs of patients already receiving care before the detonation also must be considered. Those not allocated intervention must still be provided as much appropriate comfort, assistance, relief of symptoms, and explanations as possible, given the available resources. Reassessment of patients' clinical status and priority for intervention also should be conducted with regularity.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S46-S53)
The user-managed inventory (UMI) is an emerging idea for enhancing the current distribution and maintenance system for emergency medical countermeasures (MCMs). It increases current capabilities for the dispensing and distribution of MCMs and enhances local/regional preparedness and resilience. In the UMI, critical MCMs, especially those in routine medical use (“dual utility”) and those that must be administered soon after an incident before outside supplies can arrive, are stored at multiple medical facilities (including medical supply or distribution networks) across the United States. The medical facilities store a sufficient cache to meet part of the surge needs but not so much that the resources expire before they would be used in the normal course of business. In an emergency, these extra supplies can be used locally to treat casualties, including evacuees from incidents in other localities. This system, which is at the interface of local/regional and federal response, provides response capacity before the arrival of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and thus enhances the local/regional medical responders' ability to provide life-saving MCMs that otherwise would be delayed. The UMI can be more cost-effective than stockpiling by avoiding costs due to drug expiration, disposal of expired stockpiled supplies, and repurchase for replacement.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:408-414)
To estimate the clinical and economic burden of Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) in Massachusetts over 2 years.
A retrospective analysis of Massachusetts hospital discharge data from 1999-2003 was conducted. Cases of CDAD in 2000 were identified using code 008.45 from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification; patients were excluded if they had a hospitalization in the prior year during which a diagnosis of CDAD was recorded. Hospitalizations for CDAD during 2001 and 2002 were examined. For primary case patients (ie, those for which CDAD was the principal diagnosis), all inpatient costs were deemed to be related, whereas for secondary case patients, all-patient refined diagnosis-related group assignment, case severity level, and length of stay (LOS) were used to calculate incremental costs attributable to CDAD. Costs were adjusted to the national level and reported in 2005 US dollars.
The CDAD cohort consisted of 3,692 patients; 59% were women, and the mean age was 70 years. This group represented 1% of all patients hospitalized in Massachusetts in 2000 (96% of hospitals treated at least 1 case; range, 1-257 cases). Of patients who received a first hospital diagnosis of CDAD in 2000, a total of 28% were primary case patients; their mean LOS was 6.4 days, and the mean cost per stay was $10,212. For secondary case patients, the mean CDAD-related incremental LOS was 2.95 days, and the mean incremental cost per stay was $13,675 per patient. Of patients with CDAD who survived their index stay in 2000, a total of 455 (14%) had at least 1 readmission for CDAD within the subsequent 2 years (mean number of readmissions, 1.4 per patient; range, 1-7 readmissions), with a mean time to first readmission of 3 months. Over 2 years, a total of 55,380 inpatient-days and $51.2 million were consumed by CDAD management.
CDAD is widespread in Massachusetts hospitals. Rehospitalization with CDAD, if it occurs, generally happens within a few months and happens multiple times for some patients. Based on this study's findings, a conservative estimate of the annual US cost for CDAD management is $3.2 billion dollars.
Objective: To estimate comparative mangement levels and the annual cost of caring for a nursing home resident with and without dementia. Method: Data from the 1995 Massachusetts Medicaid nursing home database were used to examine residents with Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, and no dementia to determine care and dependency levels. Massachusetts Medicaid 1997 per-diem rates for each of 10 designated management levels were applied accordingly to residents in each level to estimate annual care costs. Costs from this analysis are reported in 1997 U.S. dollars. Results: Of the 49,724 nursing home residents identified, 26.4% had a documented diagnosis of dementia. On average, a resident with dementia requires 229 more hours of care annually than one without dementia, resulting in a mean additional cost of $3,865 per patient with dementia per year. Conclusions: Dementia increases the care needs and cost of caring for a nursing home resident.
Objective: To describe the progression of patients with mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) to a severe stage using the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE). Methods: A cohort of 206 patients was stratified according to their baseline SMMSE scores: mild (19–24) and moderate (10–18). Proportional hazards analyses were used to determine the hazard of switching into a severe stage, defined as SMMSE score < 10. Results: Among patients at the mild stage, 25% reached the severe stage within 2.6 years, and in the moderate group within 1.5 years. Patients with hallucinations at the mild stage experienced more rapid decline. The previous rate of decline was also found to be an important predictor. At the moderate stage, key predictors were lower SMMSE score and longer time since onset. Conclusions: Current SMMSE scores with other clinical details can be used to advise patients and caregivers about the expected progression of AD.
A variety of behavioral and psychological symptoms are inherent to dementia, such as delusional thinking, hallucinations, agitation, violent behavior, verbal outbursts, wandering, sleep disturbances, and sexually inappropriate behavior (Jackson et al., 1989; Reisberg et al., 1987; Teri et al., 1992; Yeager et al., 1995). Although opinions in the literature differ concerning behavioral problems and how they relate to caregiver burden and institutionalization (Martinson et al., 1995; Mega et al., 1996; Reisberg et al., 1987), this analysis focuses on their role in increasing the level of care once the patient is placed in permanent residential care.
Objectives: To review the existing health economic literature on meningococcal disease vaccination.
Methods: A Medline search for economic evaluations of vaccination programs for meningococcal disease in developed countries was conducted. All identified studies were reviewed.
Results: Nine published studies were identified examining either mass vaccination during outbreaks or routine vaccination. Although net expenses were estimated in almost all studies, the resulting cost-effectiveness ratios varied widely. Vaccination of college-age students was found to be potentially cost-effective in Australia but not in the United States. With one exception, routine vaccination of children and adolescents in Europe was predicted to be cost-effective. Many simplifying assumptions were made, and important elements were often left out, in particular the potential for reduced transmission of disease.
Conclusions: The methods used and the vaccination strategies vary widely, and results do not provide strong grounds for making conclusions as to whether vaccination is cost-effective. Furthermore, in all instances, transmission of disease, changes in population carriage rates, and outbreaks are either ignored, dealt with using very broad simplifying assumptions, or are not necessarily generalizable to other settings. The analyses provide some insight into the potential cost-effectiveness of vaccination, but more importantly, they highlight areas requiring further study. Economic evaluations based on observed outcomes from recently implemented strategies would be helpful, as would more sophisticated health economic models. The choice of vaccination strategies cannot be based on the results of existing economic analyses.
The profusion of clinical practice guidelines has been remarked on by many
(3;6;8) and ascribed to a need to address the wide geographic differences in
practice documented in the last quarter
century (9;10), as well as to the increasing concern with the cost of health
care. The idea is that
guidelines, by outlining efficient care strategies, will enhance
the quality of care and reduce
unnecessary or unproductive expenditures. Others hold that guidelines are
simply a means of
transferring the results of research from the literature to clinicians (2;5). A darker view of
guidelines sees them as instruments of control of medical practice by uncaring
concerned solely with cost reduction (4;7).
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