Significant Hospital Costs Tied to 30-Day Readmissions for Allogeneic Transplants

Wayne Kuznar

February 2014, Vol 5, No 1 - Economics of Cancer Care


New Orleans, LA—New research has confirmed that 30-day readmission for reduced-toxicity conditioning allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation (allo-HCT) is linked to greater 100-day posttransplant hospital charges.

The finding justifies 30-day readmission as a significant marker of quality of care, said lead investigator Sherri Rauenzahn, MD, a palliative care fellow at West Virginia University in Morgantown, who presented her data at ASH 2013.

The criteria that impact 30-day readmission were examined for 91 patients who had reduced-toxicity conditioning allo-HCT with fludar­abine (Fludara; total dose, 150-160 mg/m2) and busulfan (Myleran; total dose, 6.4 mg/kg or 12.8 mg/kg). The researchers also measured the impact of 30-day readmission on mortality and healthcare costs of allo-HCT recipients. Of the 91 patients, 35 (38%) required readmission, at a median time of 14 days and a median length of stay of 3 days.

“The only variable on multivariate analysis that predicted readmission was an infection during the transplant admission,” said Dr Rauenzahn. “There was no difference [between groups] as far as cause of readmission. Those readmitted within 7 days usually had either a fever or infectious process, but it wasn’t statistically significant.”

The caregiver type and the number of caregivers did not influence the readmission rate.

After an 18-month median follow-up for surviving patients, the approximate 2-year overall survival rates were 49% in readmitted patients and 58% in those not readmitted. The 1-year nonrelapse mortality rates were 18% in the patients who were readmitted and 13% in patients who were not readmitted.

“Other studies have found that the conditioning regimen used might impact the readmission rate, but we used only a single conditioning regimen to try to eliminate it as one of the confounders,” she said.

“The cost of readmission made a significant difference in the total cost in the 100-day period posttransplant,” Dr Rauenzahn noted. “There was no difference in outpatient charges between groups,…it was just the re­admission rate.”

The respective median and mean hospital charges were:

  • Inpatient: $25,698 and $45,982 for readmitted patients versus $0 and $24,292, respectively, for patients not readmitted (P <.001)
  • Outpatient: $43,280 and $47,942 for readmitted patients versus $37,834 and $42,421, respectively, for patients not readmitted (P = .22)
  • Total: $85,115 and $93,925 for readmitted patients versus $45,083 and $69,142, respectively, for patients not readmitted (P = .002).

“In this specific allo-transplant population, a 30-day readmission is an indicator of increased costs,” Dr Rauenzahn pointed out. “What we can do to lessen that readmission rate is going to be challenging, because in the transplant population you already have a fairly good follow-up system, with a lot of attention to detail. Do we keep patients who have an infection during their transplant admission for a few days longer to try to prevent readmissions down the road? Or do we continue to practice the way we currently have and discharge when we think the acute condition has resolved and the [blood] counts have recovered, and see what happens?”