Costs of Neonatal Intensive Care for Canadian Infants with Preterm Birth
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OBJECTIVE: To develop and validate an itemized costing algorithm for in-patient neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) costs for infants born prematurely that can be used for quality improvement and health economic analyses. STUDY DESIGN: We sourced patient resource use data from the Canadian Neonatal Network database, with records from infants admitted to 30 tertiary NICUs in Canada. We sourced unit cost inputs from Ontario hospitals, schedules of benefits, and administrative sources. Costing estimates were generated by matching patient resource use data to the appropriate unit costs. All cost estimates were in 2017 Canadian dollars and assigned from the perspective of a provincial public payer. Results were validated using previous estimates of inpatient NICU costs and hospital case-cost estimates. RESULTS: We assigned costs to 27 742 infants born prematurely admitted from 2015 to 2017. Mean (SD) gestational age and birth weight of the cohort were 31.8 (3.5) weeks and 1843 (739) g, respectively. The median (IQR) cost of hospitalization before NICU discharge was estimated as $20 184 ($9739-51 314) for all infants; $11 810 ($6410-19 800) for infants born at gestational age of 33-36 weeks; $30 572 ($16 597-$51 857) at gestational age of 29-32 weeks; and $100 440 ($56 858-$159 3867) at gestational age of <29 weeks. Cost estimates correlated with length of stay (r = 0.97) and gestational age (r = -0.65). The estimates were consistent with provincial resource estimates and previous estimates from Canada. CONCLUSIONS: NICU costs for infants with preterm birth increase as gestation decreases and length of stay increases. Our cost estimates are easily accessible, transparent, and congruent with previous cost estimates.