Economic Evaluation of Outpatient Treatment With Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin for Proximal Vein Thrombosis
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BACKGROUND: The safety and efficacy of taking low-molecular-weight heparin at home was previously demonstrated in a clinical trial in which patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis were randomized to receive either intravenous standard heparin in the hospital or subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin administered primarily at home. Treatment in the home has the potential to substantially reduce the cost to the health care system. METHODS: To conduct an economic evaluation we prospectively collected data on resource use and health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36) on the 300 patients who formed the trial stratum presenting with proximal vein thrombosis as outpatients, of whom 151 received standard heparin and 149 received low-molecular-weight heparin. The primary viewpoint of the analysis was societal, and costs included health care costs, patient travel costs, and productivity costs as a result of time off work. Costs were assessed over a period of 3 months from randomization. Quality of life was assessed as the change in Short-Form 36 domain scores from baseline to day 7 for each treatment group. All costs are reported in 1997 Canadian dollars. RESULTS: There were 11 recurrent thromboembolic events and 1 bleed in the 151 patients who received standard heparin; the corresponding data for the 149 patients receiving low-molecular-weight heparin were 10 and 4, respectively. The mean cost per patient who received standard heparin was Can $5323 compared with Can $2278 for low-molecular-weight heparin, a total societal cost savings per patient using low-molecular-weight heparin of Can $3045 (95% confidence interval, Can $2012-$4050). There was no difference in quality of life between the 2 groups except for the domain of social functioning, where a greater improvement from baseline to day 7 was observed for the low-molecular-weight heparin group vs the standard heparin group (P =.005). CONCLUSIONS: For patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis, treatment at home with low-molecular-weight heparin is less costly than hospital-based treatment with standard heparin. The economic evidence in favor of outpatient treatment with low-molecular-weight heparin exhibits dominance; a situation of reduced cost is created with no compromise in clinical outcomes or patients' quality of life.
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