Risk, outcomes, and cost of emergency center visits in cancer patients

Danna Kurtin, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Cancer is a chronic disease that often necessitates recurrent hospitalizations, a costly pattern of medical care utilization. In chronically ill patients, most readmissions are for treatment of the same condition that caused the preceding hospitalization. There is concern that rather than reducing costs, earlier discharge may shift costs from the initial hospitalization to emergency center visits. This is the first descriptive study to measure the incidence of emergency center visits (ECVs) after hospitalization at The University of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC), to identify the risk factors for and outcomes of these ECVs, and to compare 30-day all-cause mortality and costs for episodes of care with and without ECVs. We identified all hospitalizations at UTMDACC with admission dates from September 1, 1993 through August 31, 1997 which met inclusion criteria. Data were electronically obtained primarily from UTMDACC's institutional database. Demographic factors, clinical factors, duration of the index hospitalization, method of payment for care, and year of hospitalization study were variables determined for each hospitalization. The overall incidence of ECVs was 18%. Forty-five percent of ECVs resulted in hospital readmission (8% of all hospitalizations). In 1% of ECVs the patient died in the emergency center, and for the remaining 54% of ECVs the patient was discharged home. Risk factors for ECVs were marital status, type of index hospitalization, cancer type, and duration of the index hospitalization. The overall 30-day all-cause mortality rate was 8.6% for hospitalizations with an ECV and 5.3% for those without an ECV. In all subgroups, the 30-day all-cause mortality rate was higher for groups with ECVs than for those without ECVs. The most important factor increasing cost was having an ECV. In all patient subgroups, the cost per episode of care with an ECV was at least 1.9 times the cost per episode without an ECV. The higher costs and poorer outcomes of episodes of care with ECVs and hospital readmissions suggest that interventions to avoid these ECVs or mitigate their costs are needed. Further research is needed to improve understanding of the methodological issues involved in relation to health care issues for cancer patients.

Subject Area

Public health|Oncology|Health care|Economics

Recommended Citation

Kurtin, Danna, "Risk, outcomes, and cost of emergency center visits in cancer patients" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929464.