Background and objective: The impact of clinical guidelines (GL) on venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis was evaluated in a large Italian hospital with a before/after study. GL were effective in increasing the appropriateness of prophylaxis and in reducing VTE. Following this study, the aim was to estimate the impact of the adopted GL on costs and benefits through a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Methods: A decision-tree model was used to compare prophylaxis costs and effects before and after GL implementation. All patients were classified into four risk profiles (low, moderate, high, very high). Outcomes considered were: no event, asymptomatic VTE, symptomatic VTE, fatal pulmonary embolism and major bleeding. Patient risks and the probability of receiving prophylaxis were defined using data from the previous study. Outcome probabilities were derived from the literature. Regional Drg reimbursements and hospital figures were used for costing the events.
Results: Despite a marked increase in the number of patients receiving some form of prophylaxis, it was estimated that the introduction of GL reduced the average cost per patient related to VTE from €210 to €181 (−14%), with a parallel absolute decrease in VTE complications (−5%). Results are particularly relevant in the very-high-risk group. Sensitivity analysis confirmed the overall cost savings and gains in effectiveness.
Conclusions: The implementation of locally adapted GL on VTE prophylaxis may lead to a benefit in terms of both costs and effects, especially for the highest-risk patients.
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Funding: The study was partially supported by the Compagnia San Paolo/FIRMS, within the project “Economic evaluation and quality assessment in clinical epidemiology,” and by a Regional Health Service grant.
Competing interests: None.