Outcomes and cost-effectiveness of ventilator support and aggressive care for patients with acute respiratory failure due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome

Mary Beth Hamel, Russell S. Phillips, Roger B. Davis, Joan Teno, Alfred F. Connors, Norman Desbiens, Joanne Lynn, Neal V. Dawson, William Fulkerson, Joel Tsevat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: Many patients with acute respiratory failure die despite prolonged and costly treatment. Our objective was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of providing rather than withholding mechanical ventilation and intensive care for patients with acute respiratory failure due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We studied 1,005 patients enrolled in a five-center study of seriously ill patients (the Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatments [SUPPORT]) with acute respiratory failure (pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and an Acute Physiology Score ≥10) who required ventilator support. We estimated life expectancy based on long-term follow-up of SUPPORT patients. Utilities were estimated using time-tradeoff questions. Costs (in 1998 dollars) were based on hospital fiscal data and Medicare data. RESULTS: Of the 963 patients who received ventilator support, 48% survived for at least 6 months. At 6 months, survivors reported a median of 1 dependence in activities of daily living, and 72% rated their quality of life as good, very good, or excellent. Among the 42 patients in whom ventilator support was withheld, the median survival was 3 days. Among patients whose estimated probability of surviving at least 2 months from the time of ventilator support ('prognostic estimate') was 70% or more, the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) saved by providing rather than withholding ventilator support and aggressive care was $29,000. For medium-risk patients (prognostic estimate 51% to 70%), the incremental cost-effectiveness was $44,000 per QALY, and for high-risk patients (prognostic estimate ≤50%), it was $110,000 per QALY. When assumptions were varied from 50% to 200% of baseline estimates, the results ranged from $19,000 to $48,000 for low-risk patients, from $29,000 to $76,000 for medium-risk patients, and from $67,000 to $200,000 for high-risk patients. CONCLUSIONS: Ventilator support and intensive care for acute respiratory failure due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome are relatively cost-effective for patients with >50% probability of surviving 2 months. However, for patients with an expected 2-month survival ≤50%, the cost per QALY is more than threefold greater at >$100,000. (C) 2000 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-620
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Volume109
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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