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1.  Energy Delivery Systems for Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia 
Executive Summary
Objective
The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee asked the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) to conduct a health technology assessment on energy delivery systems for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
BPH is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland and the most common benign tumour in aging men. (1) It is the most common cause of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and bladder outlet obstruction (BOO) and is an important cause of diminished quality of life among aging men. (2) The primary goal in the management of BPH for most patients is a subjective improvement in urinary symptoms and quality of life.
Until the 1930s, open prostatectomy, though invasive, was the most effective form of surgical treatment for BPH. Today, the benchmark surgical treatment for BPH is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), which produces significant changes of all subjective and objective outcome parameters. Complications after TURP include hemorrhage during or after the procedure, which often necessitates blood transfusion; transurethral resection (TUR) syndrome; urinary incontinence; bladder neck stricture; and sexual dysfunction. A retrospective review of 4,031 TURP procedures performed by one surgeon between 1979 and 2003 showed that the incidence of complications was 2.4% for blood transfusion, 0.3% for TUR syndrome, 1.5% for hemostatic procedures, 2.8% for bladder neck contracture, and 1% for urinary stricture. However, the incidence of blood transfusion and TUR syndrome decreased as the surgeon’s skills improved.
During the 1990s, a variety of endoscopic techniques using a range of energy sources have been developed as alternative treatments for BPH. These techniques include the use of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (laser), radiofrequency, microwave, and ultrasound, to heat prostate tissue and cause coagulation or vaporization. In addition, new electrosurgical techniques that use higher amounts of energy to cut, coagulate, and vaporize prostatic tissue have entered the market as competitors to TURP. The driving force behind these new treatment modalities is the potential of producing good hemostasis, thereby reducing catheterization time and length of hospital stay. Some have the potential to be used in an office environment and performed under local anesthesia. Therefore, these new procedures have the potential to rival TURP if their effectiveness is proven over the long term.
The Technology Being Reviewed
The following energy-based techniques were considered for assessment:
transurethral electrovaporization of the prostate (TUVP)
transurethral electrovapor resection of the prostate (TUVRP)
transurethral electrovaporization of the prostate using bipolar energy (plasmakinetic vaporization of the prostate [PKVP])
visual laser ablation of the prostate (VLAP)
transurethral ultrasound guided laser incision prostatectomy (TULIP)
contact laser vaporization of the prostate (CLV)
interstitial laser coagulation (ILC)
holmium laser resection of the prostate (HoLRP)
holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP)
holmium laser ablation of the prostate (HoLAP)
potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser
transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT)
transurethral needle ablation (TUNA)
Review Strategy
A search of electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment [INAHTA] database) was undertaken to identify evidence published from January 1, 2000 to June 21, 2006. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies. The literature search identified 284 citations, of which 38 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) met the inclusion criteria.
Since the application of high-power (80 W) KTP laser (photoselective vaporization of the prostate [PVP]) has been supported in the United States and has resulted in a rapid diffusion of this technology in the absence of any RCTs, the MAS decided that any comparative studies on PVP should be identified and evaluated. Hence, the literature was searched and one prospective cohort study (3) was identified but evaluated separately.
Findings of Literature Review and Analysis
Meta-analysis of the results of RCTs shows that monopolar electrovaporization is as clinically effective as TURP for the relief of urinary symptoms caused by BPH (based on 5-year follow-up data).
Meta-analysis of the results of RCTs shows that bipolar electrovaporization (PKVP) is clinically as effective as TURP for the relief of urinary symptoms caused by BPH (based on 1-year follow-up data).
Two of the three RCTs on VLAP have shown that patients undergoing VLAP had a significantly lesser improvement in urinary symptom scores compared with patients undergoing TURP.
RCTs showed that the time to catheter removal was significantly longer in patients undergoing VLAP compared with patients undergoing TURP.
Meta-analysis of the rate of reoperation showed that patients undergoing VLAP had a significantly higher rate of reoperation compared with patients undergoing TURP.
Meta-analysis showed that patients undergoing CLV had a significantly lesser improvement in urinary symptom scores compared with TURP at 2 years and at 3 or more years of follow-up.
Two RCTs with 6-month and 2-year follow-up showed similar improvement in symptom scores for ILC and TURP.
Time to catheter removal was significantly longer in patients undergoing ILC compared with patients undergoing TURP.
The results of RCTs on HoLEP with 1-year follow-up showed excellent clinical outcomes with regard to the urinary symptom score and peak urinary flow.
Meta-analysis showed that at 1-year follow-up, patients undergoing HoLEP had a significantly greater improvement in urinary symptom scores and peak flow rate compared with patients undergoing TURP.
Procedural time is significantly longer in HoLEP compared with TURP.
The results of one RCT with 4-year follow-up showed that HoLRP and TURP provided equivalent improvement in urinary symptom scores.
The results of one RCT with 1-year follow-up showed that patients undergoing KTP had a lesser improvement in urinary symptom scores than did patients undergoing TURP. However, the results were not significant at longer-term follow-up periods.
Two RCTs that provided 3-year follow-up data reported that patients undergoing TUMT had a significantly lesser improvement in symptom score compared with patients undergoing TURP.
RCTs reported a longer duration of catheterization for TUMT compared with TURP (P values are not reported).
The results of a large RCT with 5-year follow-up showed a significantly lesser improvement in symptom scores in patients undergoing TUNA compared with patients undergoing TURP.
Meta-analysis of the rate of reoperation showed that patients undergoing TUNA had a significantly higher rate of reoperation compared with patients undergoing TURP.
Based on the results of RCTs, TURP is associated with a 0.5% risk of TUR syndrome, while no cases of TUR syndrome have been reported in patients undergoing monopolar or bipolar electrovaporization, laser-based procedures, TUMT, or TUNA.
Based on the results of RCTs, the rate of blood transfusion ranges from 0% to 8.3% in patients undergoing TURP. The rate is about 1.7% in monopolar electrovaporization, 1.4% in bipolar electrovaporization, and 0.4% in the VLAP procedure. No patients undergoing CLV, ILC, HoLEP, HoLRP, KTP, TUMT, and TUNA required blood transfusion.
The mean length of hospital stay is between 2 and 5 days for patients undergoing TURP, about 3 days for electrovaporization, about 2 to 4 days for Nd:YAG laser procedures, and about 1 to 2 days for holmium laser procedures. TUMT and TUNA can each be performed as a day procedure in an outpatient setting (0.5 and 1 day respectively).
Based on a prospective cohort study, PVP is clinically as effective as TURP for the relief of urinary symptoms caused by BPH (based on 6-month follow-up data). Time to catheter removal was significantly shorter in patients undergoing PVP than in those undergoing TURP. Operating room time was significantly longer in PVP than in TURP. PVP has the potential to reduce health care expenses due to shorter hospital stays.
Economic Analysis
In the three most recent fiscal years (FY) reported, an average of approximately 5,000 TURP procedures per year were performed in Ontario. From FY 2002 to FY 2004, the total number of surgical interventions decreased by approximately 500 procedures. During this time, the increase in costs of drugs to the government was estimated at approximately $10 million (Cdn); however, there was a concurrent decrease in costs due to a decline in the total number of surgical procedures, estimated at approximately $1.9 million (Cdn). From FY 2002 to FY 2004, the increase in costs associated with the increase in utilization of drugs for the treatment of BPH translates into $353 (Cdn) per patient while the cost savings associated with a decrease in the total number of surgical procedures translates into a savings of $3,906 (Cdn) per patient.
The following table summarizes the change in the current budget, depending on various estimates of the total percentage of the 5,000 TURP procedures that might be replaced by other energy-based interventions for the treatment of BPH in the future.
Budget Impact With Various Estimates of the Percentage of TURP Procedures Captured by Energy-based Interventions for the Treatment of BPH
All costs are in Canadian currency. Parentheses indicative of cost reduction.
PMCID: PMC3379165  PMID: 23074487
2.  Costs of day hospital and community residential chemical dependency treatment 
Background
Evidence suggests that expensive hospital-based inpatient chemical dependency programs do not deliver outcomes that are superior to less costly day hospital programs, but patient placement criteria developed by the Addiction Society of Medicine (ASAM) nonetheless have identified a need for low-intensity residential treatment for patients with higher levels of severity. Community-based residential programs may represent a low-cost inpatient alternative that satisfies the ASAM criteria, but research is lacking in this area. A recent clinical trial has found similar outcomes at social model residential treatment and clinically-oriented day hospital programs, but did not report on the costs associated with treatment in that study.
Aims
This paper addresses whether the similar outcomes in the recent trial were delivered with comparable costs. It also studies costs separately for men and women, and for Whites and non-Whites, subgroups not included or identified in prior cost effectiveness work.
Method
This paper reports on clients who participated in a randomized trial conducted in three metropolitan areas served by a large pre-paid health plan. Clients were eligible if they met the first five dimensions of the ASAM criteria for low-intensity residential treatment and had not been mandated to residential treatment due to dangerous home environment (the sixth ASAM dimension). The five day hospital programs included here are typical of mainstream private chemical dependency programs that were developed as an alternative to inpatient treatment. The seven residential programs are typical of those historically developed by members of alcohol mutual-help programs. Cost data for the study sites were collected using the Drug Abuse Treatment Cost Analysis Program (DATCAP) which produces estimates of average costs per week per client treated at a particular treatment program. Lengths of stay were derived from program records. Costs per episode for each study subject were calculated by multiplying the DATCAP-based program-specific costs (per week) by the number of weeks the subject stayed in the program to which they had been randomly assigned. Differences in length of stay, and in per-episode costs, were compared between residential and day hospital subjects using the Brown-Forsythe robust test of the equality of means.
Results
Lengths of stay at residential treatment were significantly longer than at day hospital, in the sample overall and in the disaggregated analyses for both genders and for both Whites and non-Whites. This difference was especially marked among non-Whites, who had quite short stays in day hospital. The average cost per week was $575 per week at day hospital, versus $370 per week at the residential programs. However, because of the longer stays in residential programs, this lower cost per week did not always translate to lower per-episode costs. Instead, the per-episode costs were significantly higher for those treated in residential programs than in day hospital in the sample overall, and among non-Whites. Costs were comparable for Whites and for women treated in either setting, but were marginally higher for men randomized to residential programs.
Discussion
These cost results must be considered in light of the null findings comparing outcomes between subjects randomized to residential versus day hospital programs in this study, in the overall sample and by gender and race/ethnicity: That is, the longer stays in the sample overall and for non-White clients at residential programs came at higher costs but did not lead to better rates of abstinence. An important component of the cost differential arose from especially short stays in day hospital among non-Whites, calling into question the attractiveness of day hospital for minority clients.
Conclusion
Outcomes and costs at residential versus day hospital programs were similar for women and for Whites in a randomized trial of pre-paid health plan members who met ASAM criteria for low-intensity residential treatment but were not at environmental risk. For non-Whites, and marginally for men, a preference for residential care would appear to come at a higher cost.
Implications for health care provision and use
Lengths of stay in residential treatment are significantly longer than in day hospital, but costs per week are lower. Women and Whites appear to be equally well-served in residential and day hospital programs, with no significant cost differential. Provision of residential treatment for non-Whites may be more costly than day hospital, because their residential stays are likely to be 3 times longer than they would be if treated in day hospital. For men, residential care will be marginally more costly.
Implications for health policy formulation
Residential treatment appears to represent a cost-effective alternative to day hospital for female and White clients with severe alcohol and drug problems who are not at environmental risk, although it will be important that the current study be replicated with different samples and study programs.
Implications for further research
The much shorter stays in day hospital than at residential among non-Whites highlight the need for research to better understand how to best meet the needs and preferences of non-White clients when considering both costs and outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2744443  PMID: 18424874
3.  Evaluation of hospital inpatient complications: a planning approach 
Background
Hospital inpatient complications are one of a number of adverse health care outcomes. Reducing complications has been identified as an approach to improving care and saving resources as part of the health care reform efforts in the United States.
An objective of this study was to describe the Potentially Preventable Complications software developed as a tool for evaluating hospital inpatient outcomes. Additional objectives included demonstration of the use of this software to evaluate the connection between health care outcomes and expenses in United States administrative data at the state and local levels and the use of the software to plan and implement interventions to reduce hospital complications in one U.S. metropolitan area.
Methods
The study described the Potentially Preventable Complications software as a tool for evaluating these inpatient hospital outcomes. Through administrative hospital charge data from California and Maryland and through cost data from three hospitals in Syracuse, New York, expenses for patients with and without complications were compared. These comparisons were based on patients in the same All Patients Refined Diagnosis Related Groups and severity of illness categories. This analysis included tests of statistical significance.
In addition, the study included a planning process for use of the Potentially Preventable Complications software in three Syracuse hospitals to plan and implement reductions in hospital inpatient complications. The use of the PPC software in cost comparisons and reduction of complications included tests of statistical significance.
Results
The study demonstrated that Potentially Preventable Complications were associated with significantly increased cost in administrative data from the United States in California and Maryland and in actual cost data from the hospitals of Syracuse, New York. The implementation of interventions in the Syracuse hospitals was associated with the reduction of complications for urinary tract infection, decubitus ulcer, and pulmonary embolism.
Conclusions
The study demonstrated that the Potentially Preventable Complications software could be used to evaluate hospital outcomes and related costs at the aggregate and diagnosis specific levels. It also indicated that the system could be used to plan and implement interventions to improve outcomes on an individual or multihospital basis.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-200
PMCID: PMC2914724  PMID: 20618943
4.  Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to compare hospital-at-home care with inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who present to the emergency department (ED).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease state characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. This airflow limitation is usually both progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases. The natural history of COPD involves periods of acute-onset worsening of symptoms, particularly increased breathlessness, cough, and/or sputum, that go beyond normal day-to-day variations; these are known as acute exacerbations.
Two-thirds of COPD exacerbations are caused by an infection of the tracheobronchial tree or by air pollution; the cause in the remaining cases is unknown. On average, patients with moderate to severe COPD experience 2 or 3 exacerbations each year.
Exacerbations have an important impact on patients and on the health care system. For the patient, exacerbations result in decreased quality of life, potentially permanent losses of lung function, and an increased risk of mortality. For the health care system, exacerbations of COPD are a leading cause of ED visits and hospitalizations, particularly in winter.
Technology
Hospital-at-home programs offer an alternative for patients who present to the ED with an exacerbation of COPD and require hospital admission for their treatment. Hospital-at-home programs provide patients with visits in their home by medical professionals (typically specialist nurses) who monitor the patients, alter patients’ treatment plans if needed, and in some programs, provide additional care such as pulmonary rehabilitation, patient and caregiver education, and smoking cessation counselling.
There are 2 types of hospital-at-home programs: admission avoidance and early discharge hospital-at-home. In the former, admission avoidance hospital-at-home, after patients are assessed in the ED, they are prescribed the necessary medications and additional care needed (e.g., oxygen therapy) and then sent home where they receive regular visits from a medical professional. In early discharge hospital-at-home, after being assessed in the ED, patients are admitted to the hospital where they receive the initial phase of their treatment. These patients are discharged into a hospital-at-home program before the exacerbation has resolved. In both cases, once the exacerbation has resolved, the patient is discharged from the hospital-at-home program and no longer receives visits in his/her home.
In the models that exist to date, hospital-at-home programs differ from other home care programs because they deal with higher acuity patients who require higher acuity care, and because hospitals retain the medical and legal responsibility for patients. Furthermore, patients requiring home care services may require such services for long periods of time or indefinitely, whereas patients in hospital-at-home programs require and receive the services for a short period of time only.
Hospital-at-home care is not appropriate for all patients with acute exacerbations of COPD. Ineligible patients include: those with mild exacerbations that can be managed without admission to hospital; those who require admission to hospital; and those who cannot be safely treated in a hospital-at-home program either for medical reasons and/or because of a lack of, or poor, social support at home.
The proposed possible benefits of hospital-at-home for treatment of exacerbations of COPD include: decreased utilization of health care resources by avoiding hospital admission and/or reducing length of stay in hospital; decreased costs; increased health-related quality of life for patients and caregivers when treated at home; and reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections in this susceptible patient population.
Ontario Context
No hospital-at-home programs for the treatment of acute exacerbations of COPD were identified in Ontario. Patients requiring acute care for their exacerbations are treated in hospitals.
Research Question
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of hospital-at-home care compared with inpatient hospital care of acute exacerbations of COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on August 5, 2010, using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database for studies published from January 1, 1990, to August 5, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists and health technology assessment websites were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the systematic search.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-text reports;
health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs);
studies performed exclusively in patients with a diagnosis of COPD or studies including patients with COPD as well as patients with other conditions, if results are reported for COPD patients separately;
studies performed in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED;
studies published between January 1, 1990, and August 5, 2010;
studies comparing hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of COPD;
studies that include at least 1 of the outcomes of interest (listed below).
Cochrane Collaboration reviews have defined hospital-at-home programs as those that provide patients with active treatment for their acute exacerbation in their home by medical professionals for a limited period of time (in this case, until the resolution of the exacerbation). If a hospital-at-home program had not been available, these patients would have been admitted to hospital for their treatment.
Exclusion Criteria
< 18 years of age
animal studies
duplicate publications
grey literature
Outcomes of Interest
Patient/clinical outcomes
mortality
lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second)
health-related quality of life
patient or caregiver preference
patient or caregiver satisfaction with care
complications
Health system outcomes
hospital readmissions
length of stay in hospital and hospital-at-home
ED visits
transfer to long-term care
days to readmission
eligibility for hospital-at-home
Statistical Methods
When possible, results were pooled using Review Manager 5 Version 5.1; otherwise, results were summarized descriptively. Data from RCTs were analyzed using intention-to-treat protocols. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was done assigning all missing data/withdrawals to the event. P values less than 0.05 were considered significant. A priori subgroup analyses were planned for the acuity of hospital-at-home program, type of hospital-at-home program (early discharge or admission avoidance), and severity of the patients’ COPD. Additional subgroup analyses were conducted as needed based on the identified literature. Post hoc sample size calculations were performed using STATA 10.1.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed, taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review: 1 health technology assessment, 5 systematic reviews, and 7 RCTs.
The following conclusions are based on low to very low quality of evidence. The reviewed evidence was based on RCTs that were inadequately powered to observe differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for most outcomes, so there is a strong possibility of type II error. Given the low to very low quality of evidence, these conclusions must be considered with caution.
Approximately 21% to 37% of patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED may be eligible for hospital-at-home care.
Of the patients who are eligible for care, some may refuse to participate in hospital-at-home care.
Eligibility for hospital-at-home care may be increased depending on the design of the hospital-at-home program, such as the size of the geographical service area for hospital-at-home and the hours of operation for patient assessment and entry into hospital-at-home.
Hospital-at-home care for acute exacerbations of COPD was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in the risk of mortality and hospital readmissions compared with inpatient hospital care during 2- to 6-month follow-up.
Limited, very low quality evidence suggests that hospital readmissions are delayed in patients who received hospital-at-home care compared with those who received inpatient hospital care (mean additional days before readmission comparing hospital-at-home to inpatient hospital care ranged from 4 to 38 days).
There is insufficient evidence to determine whether hospital-at-home care, compared with inpatient hospital care, is associated with improved lung function.
The majority of studies did not find significant differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for a variety of health-related quality of life measures at follow-up. However, follow-up may have been too late to observe an impact of hospital-at-home care on quality of life.
A conclusion about the impact of hospital-at-home care on length of stay for the initial exacerbation (defined as days in hospital or days in hospital plus hospital-at-home care for inpatient hospital and hospital-at-home, respectively) could not be determined because of limited and inconsistent evidence.
Patient and caregiver satisfaction with care is high for both hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care.
PMCID: PMC3384361  PMID: 23074420
5.  Cardiac Complications in Patients with Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1001048.
Vicente Corrales-Medina and colleagues report estimates of the risk of cardiac complications among patients with community-acquired pneumonia from a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Background
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. CAP can trigger acute cardiac events. We sought to determine the incidence of major cardiac complications in CAP patients to characterize the magnitude of this problem.
Methods and Findings
Two investigators searched MEDLINE, Scopus, and EMBASE for observational studies of immunocompetent adults with clinical and radiological evidence of CAP that reported any of the following: overall cardiac complications, incident heart failure, acute coronary syndromes (ACS), or incident cardiac arrhythmias occurring within 30 days of CAP diagnosis. At a minimum, studies had to establish enrolment procedures and inclusion and exclusion criteria, enrol their patients sequentially, and report the incidence of cardiac complications as a function of their entire cohorts. Studies with focus on nosocomial or health care–associated pneumonia were not included. Review of 2,176 citations yielded 25 articles that met eligibility and minimum quality criteria. Seventeen articles (68%) reported cohorts of CAP inpatients. In this group, the pooled incidence rates for overall cardiac complications (six cohorts, 2,119 patients), incident heart failure (eights cohorts, 4,215 patients), acute coronary syndromes (six cohorts, 2,657 patients), and incident cardiac arrhythmias (six cohorts, 2,596 patients), were 17.7% (confidence interval [CI] 13.9–22.2), 14.1% (9.3–20.6), 5.3% (3.2–8.6), and 4.7% (2.4–8.9), respectively. One article reported cardiac complications in CAP outpatients, four in low-risk (not severely ill) inpatients, and three in high-risk inpatients. The incidences for all outcomes except overall cardiac complications were lower in the two former groups and higher in the latter. One additional study reported on CAP outpatients and low-risk inpatients without discriminating between these groups. Twelve studies (48%) asserted the evaluation of cardiac complications in their methods but only six (24%) provided a definition for them. Only three studies, all examining ACS, carried out risk factor analysis for these events. No study analyzed the association between cardiac complications and other medical complications or their impact on other CAP outcomes.
Conclusions
Major cardiac complications occur in a substantial proportion of patients with CAP. Physicians and patients need to appreciate the significance of this association for timely recognition and management of these events. Strategies aimed at preventing pneumonia (i.e., influenza and pneumococcal vaccination) in high-risk populations need to be optimized. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying this association, measure the impact of cardiac complications on other CAP outcomes, identify those patients with CAP at high risk of developing cardiac complications, and design strategies to prevent their occurrence in this population.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), that is, pneumonia infections contracted outside of hospital or health care settings, is a common condition and can be fatal, particularly to older people. For example, every year, an estimated 5–6 million people contract this form of pneumonia in the US, leading to 1.1 million people being admitted to hospitals and causing 60,000 deaths—the most frequent cause of infectious disease-related mortality. In the US for example, more than half of older patients who present to the hospital with CAP have preexisting chronic cardiac conditions—an important fact given that acute infections, such as CAP, can affect the cardiovascular system in various ways and precipitate acute cardiac events, such as heart failure, heart attacks, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although it is bio-medically plausible that a considerable proportion of patients with CAP have cardiac complications, systematic data on the scale of this potential problem are lacking—a concerning omission given the important implications for health policy-making and direct patient care. Therefore, in this study, the researchers conducted a systematic review to examine the published literature on cardiac complications in patients with CAP in order to characterize the nature and significance of this association, and to identify areas that require further research and investigation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched MEDLINE, Scopus, and EMBASE for all relevant articles published in English, French, or Spanish languages until June 2010. The researchers used strict criteria to select appropriate articles (such as radiographic evidence of CAP) and only selected studies that had outcomes of the incidence of cardiac complications, such as incident (new or worsening) heart failure, acute coronary syndromes (acute myocardial infarction or unstable angina), and incident cardiac arrhythmias within 30 days of diagnosis of CAP.
Using these methods, the researchers identified 2,176 articles for review and selected 25 eligible papers for their analysis. Seventeen articles (68%) reported cohorts of CAP inpatients. In this group, the pooled incidence rates of overall cardiac complications (six cohorts, 2,119 patients), incident heart failure (eight cohorts, 4,215 patients), acute coronary syndromes (six cohorts, 2,657 patients), and incident cardiac arrhythmias (six cohorts, 2,596 patients), were 17.7%, 14.1%, 5.3%, and 4.7% respectively. Only three studies, (all of acute coronary syndromes) did risk factor analysis for these events. Possible risk factors identified included older age, preexisting congestive heart failure, severity of pneumonia, and the use of insulin by glucose sliding scales in hospitalized patients. No study analyzed the association between cardiac complications and other medical complications (such as acute renal failure, respiratory failure, shock, etc.) or their impact on other outcomes, such as death, in patients with CAP.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although limited to a mostly descriptive analysis, these findings clearly show that major cardiac complications occur in a significant proportion of patients with CAP, especially in those admitted to hospital. These findings have important clinical and public health implications. Clinicians should be more aware of the significance of the association between CAP and cardiac complications to better inform, treat, and manage patients. Physicians and health officials need to increase efforts to optimize the rates of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination among older people and those with chronic cardiac conditions to reduce the incidence of CAP in these high-risk populations. There needs to be more consideration given to the potential impact of cardiac complications on mortality and costs associated with CAP. Finally, these findings highlight the need for prospective, well-designed, and adequately powered studies of cardiac complications in patients with CAP. More research attention should be given to this important area in order to improve the outcomes for patients with CAP and to decrease the consequent burden on health care systems through recognition of risk, prevention, and intervention on acute cardiac complications.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001048.
Information can be found on Wikipedia on community-acquired pneumonia (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control provide patient information on community-acquired pneumonia
The American Heart Association provides information on heart failure, acute coronary syndromes, and arrhythmias
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001048
PMCID: PMC3125176  PMID: 21738449
6.  The need for acute, subacute, and nonacute care at 105 general hospital sites on Ontario 
BACKGROUND: Previous studies of hospital utilization have not taken into account the use of acute care beds for subacute care. The authors determined the proportion of patients who required acute, subacute and nonacute care on admission and during their hospital stay in general hospitals in Ontario. From this analysis, they identified areas where the efficiency of care delivery might be improved. METHODS: Ninety-eight of 189 acute care hospitals in Ontario, at 105 sites, participated in a review that used explicit criteria for rating acuity developed by Inter-Qual Inc., Marlborough, Mass. The records of 13,242 patients who were discharged over a 9-month period in 1995 after hospital care for 1 of 8 high-volume, high-variability diagnoses or procedures were randomly selected for review. Patients were categorized on the basis of the level of care (acute, subacute or nonacute) they required on admission and during subsequent days of hospital care. RESULTS: Of all admissions, 62.2% were acute, 19.7% subacute and 18.1% nonacute. The patients most likely to require acute care on admission were those with acute myocardial infarction (96.2% of 1826 patients) or cerebrovascular accident (84.0% of 1596 patients) and those admitted for elective surgery on the day of their procedure (73.4% of 3993 patients). However, 41.1% of patients awaiting hip or knee replacement were admitted the day before surgery so did not require acute care on admission. The proportion of patients who required acute care on admission and during the subsequent hospital stay declined with age; the proportion of patients needing nonacute care did not vary with age. After admission, acute care was needed on 27.5% of subsequent days, subacute care on 40.2% and nonacute care on 32.3%. The need for acute care on admission was a predictor of need for acute care during subsequent hospital stay among patients with medical conditions. The proportion of patients requiring subacute care during the subsequent hospital stay increased with age, decreased with the number of inpatient beds in each hospital and was highest among patients with congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia. INTERPRETATION: In 1995, inpatients requiring subacute care accounted for a substantial proportion of nonacute care days in Ontario's general hospitals. These findings suggest a need to evaluate the efficiencies that might be achieved by introducing a subacute category of care into the Canadian health care system. Generally, efforts are needed to reduce the proportion of admissions for nonacute care and of in-hospital days for other than acute care.
PMCID: PMC1229322  PMID: 9614821
7.  Reduction in Clostridium difficile Infection Rates after Mandatory Hospital Public Reporting: Findings from a Longitudinal Cohort Study in Canada 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001268.
A population-based study conducted by Nick Daneman and colleagues in Ontario, Canada reports on the association between population reporting of hospital infection rates and a reduction in population burden of Clostridium difficile colitis.
Background
The role of public reporting in improving hospital quality of care is controversial. Reporting of hospital-acquired infection rates has been introduced in multiple health care systems, but its relationship to infection rates has been understudied. Our objective was to determine whether mandatory public reporting by hospitals is associated with a reduction in hospital rates of Clostridium difficile infection.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a longitudinal, population-based cohort study in Ontario (Canada's largest province) between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2010. We included all patients (>1 y old) admitted to 180 acute care hospitals. Using Poisson regression, we developed a model to predict hospital- and age-specific monthly rates of C. difficile disease per 10,000 patient-days prior to introduction of public reporting on September 1, 2008. We then compared observed monthly rates of C. difficile infection in the post-intervention period with rates predicted by the pre-intervention predictive model. In the pre-intervention period there were 33,634 cases of C. difficile infection during 39,221,113 hospital days, with rates increasing from 7.01 per 10,000 patient-days in 2002 to 10.79 in 2007. In the first calendar year after the introduction of public reporting, there was a decline in observed rates of C. difficile colitis in Ontario to 8.92 cases per 10,000 patient-days, which was significantly lower than the predicted rate of 12.16 (95% CI 11.35–13.04) cases per 10,000 patient-days (p<0.001). Over this period, public reporting was associated with a 26.7% (95% CI 21.4%–31.6%) reduction in C. difficile cases, or a projected 1,970 cases averted per year (95% CI 1,476–2,500). The effect was specific to C. difficile, with rates of community-acquired gastrointestinal infections and urinary tract infections unchanged. A limitation of our study is that this observational study design cannot rule out the influence of unmeasured temporal confounders.
Conclusions
Public reporting of hospital C. difficile rates was associated with a substantial reduction in the population burden of this infection. Future research will be required to discern the direct mechanism by which C. difficile infection rates may have been reduced in response to public reporting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A stay in hospital can be lifesaving but can expose people to health care–associated infections. One of these—Clostridium difficile infection—is a major cause of infectious disease illness and death in developed countries. C. difficile bacteria cause diarrhea and, more rarely, life-threatening inflammation of the gut (colitis). They are present in the gut of about 3% of adults but do not normally cause any problems because other “good” bacteria keep them in check. However, antibiotics destroy these good bacteria, and if a person who has taken antibiotics becomes infected with C. difficile before good bacteria repopulate the gut, C. difficile can multiply rapidly and produce toxins that cause illness. Because C. difficile is usually acquired from other infected patients and their contaminated environments, and because antibiotic use is highly prevalent in hospitals, most C. difficile infections are acquired in hospitals and nursing homes. Infections can be prevented by practicing good hygiene in health care environments (for example, washing hands regularly with soap and water), by isolating patients who are infected with C. difficile, and by prescribing antibiotics for other infections sparingly.
Why Was This Study Done?
Hospitals often need encouragement to improve infection control and other aspects of care. One potential way to improve the quality of hospital care is mandatory public reporting of measures of care quality. This intervention may help hospitals identify areas of poor performance to target for improvement or may motivate them to improve care quality to avoid the shame of a bad performance report. Although many health care systems have introduced public reporting of hospital-acquired infections, the effects of this intervention have been poorly studied. In this longitudinal cohort study, the researchers use population-based health care data to evaluate the impact of the introduction of mandatory hospital public reporting of the rates of hospital-acquired C. difficile infection in Ontario, Canada. Since September 1, 2008, hospitals in Ontario have been required to send monthly data on hospital-acquired C. difficile infections to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for posting on a public website.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used health care administrative data for all patients older than one year admitted to acute care hospitals in Ontario between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2010, to develop a model to predict monthly rates of C. difficile disease per 10,000 patient-days based on rates in the period before the introduction of public reporting. They then compared the observed rates of C. difficile disease after the introduction of public reporting with the rates predicted by this model. In the pre-intervention period, there were nearly 34,000 cases of C. difficile disease during about 39 million hospital days. Rates of C. difficile disease increased from 7.01 cases per 10,000 patient-days in 2002 to 10.79 cases per 10,000 patient-days in 2007. After the introduction of public reporting, the C. difficile disease rate fell to 8.92 cases per 10,000 patient-days, which is significantly (that is, unlikely to have occurred by chance) lower than the 12.16 cases per 10,000 patient-days predicted by the pre-intervention model. Finally, the researchers estimate that public reporting was associated with a 26.6% reduction in C. difficile disease cases and that it averted about 1,900 cases per year.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that mandatory public reporting of hospital rates of C. difficile disease may reduce the population burden of this serious infection. Because this is an observational study, these findings do not prove that the introduction of mandatory public reporting actually caused a reduction in infection rates. Some other uncharacterized factor might be responsible for the decrease in C. difficile disease in Ontario hospitals since late 2008. Moreover, the many assumptions included in the predictive model means that the estimated number of cases averted by the introduction of public reporting may be inaccurate. Although further research is needed to determine how public reporting might affect C. difficile disease rates, the researchers suggest that, in this study, mandatory public reporting may have increased the prominence of C. difficile on hospital quality improvement agendas and may have motivated hospitals to adhere more closely to best practices in C. difficile prevention.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001268.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides detailed information about C. difficile infection, including an article called Making Health Care Safer: Stopping C. difficile Infections
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about C. difficile infections
The Health Protection Agency provides information about mandatory reporting of C. difficile infections in England and Wales and a fact sheet on C. difficile
Information about public reporting of hospital C. difficile rates in Ontario is available (in English and French)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about C. difficile infections (in English and Spanish)
The UK Clostridium Difficle Support website has a forum containing personal stories about C. difficile infection
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001268
PMCID: PMC3398960  PMID: 22815656
8.  Event Rates, Hospital Utilization, and Costs Associated with Major Complications of Diabetes: A Multicountry Comparative Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000236.
Philip Clarke and colleagues examined patient-level data for over 11,000 participants with type 2 diabetes from 20 countries and find that major complications of diabetes significantly increased hospital use and costs across settings.
Background
Diabetes imposes a substantial burden globally in terms of premature mortality, morbidity, and health care costs. Estimates of economic outcomes associated with diabetes are essential inputs to policy analyses aimed at prevention and treatment of diabetes. Our objective was to estimate and compare event rates, hospital utilization, and costs associated with major diabetes-related complications in high-, middle-, and low-income countries.
Methods and Findings
Incidence and history of diabetes-related complications, hospital admissions, and length of stay were recorded in 11,140 patients with type 2 diabetes participating in the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease (ADVANCE) study (mean age at entry 66 y). The probability of hospital utilization and number of days in hospital for major events associated with coronary disease, cerebrovascular disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, and nephropathy were estimated for three regions (Asia, Eastern Europe, and Established Market Economies) using multiple regression analysis. The resulting estimates of days spent in hospital were multiplied by regional estimates of the costs per hospital bed-day from the World Health Organization to compute annual acute and long-term costs associated with the different types of complications. To assist, comparability, costs are reported in international dollars (Int$), which represent a hypothetical currency that allows for the same quantities of goods or services to be purchased regardless of country, standardized on purchasing power in the United States. A cost calculator accompanying this paper enables the estimation of costs for individual countries and translation of these costs into local currency units. The probability of attending a hospital following an event was highest for heart failure (93%–96% across regions) and lowest for nephropathy (15%–26%). The average numbers of days in hospital given at least one admission were greatest for stroke (17–32 d across region) and heart failure (16–31 d) and lowest for nephropathy (12–23 d). Considering regional differences, probabilities of hospitalization were lowest in Asia and highest in Established Market Economies; on the other hand, lengths of stay were highest in Asia and lowest in Established Market Economies. Overall estimated annual hospital costs for patients with none of the specified events or event histories ranged from Int$76 in Asia to Int$296 in Established Market Economies. All complications included in this analysis led to significant increases in hospital costs; coronary events, cerebrovascular events, and heart failure were the most costly, at more than Int$1,800, Int$3,000, and Int$4,000 in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Established Market Economies, respectively.
Conclusions
Major complications of diabetes significantly increase hospital use and costs across various settings and are likely to impose a high economic burden on health care systems.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, nearly 250 million people have diabetes, and this number is increasing rapidly. Diabetes is characterized by dangerous amounts of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Blood sugar control fails in people with diabetes because they make no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or, more commonly, because the fat and muscle cells that usually respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood have become insulin insensitive (type 2 diabetes). Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and controlled by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It can also be treated with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that increase insulin sensitivity. Major long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and problems with the blood vessels in the arms and legs. Because of these complications, the life expectancy of people with diabetes is about ten years shorter than that of people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Diabetes imposes considerable demands on health care systems but little is known about the direct medical costs associated with treating this chronic disease in low- and middle-income countries where more than three-quarters of affected people live. In particular, although estimates have been made of the overall resources devoted to the treatment of diabetes, very little is known about how the different long-term complications of diabetes contribute to health care costs in different countries. Public-health experts and governments need this information to help them design effective and sustainable policies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. In this study, the researchers estimate the resource use associated with diabetes-related complications in three economic regions using information collected in the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease (ADVANCE) study. This multinational clinical trial is investigating how drugs that control blood pressure and blood sugar levels affect the long-term complications of diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recorded diabetes-related complications, hospital admissions for these complications, and length of hospital stays in 11,140 patients with severe diabetes from 20 countries who participated in the ADVANCE study. They used “multiple regression analysis” to estimate the number of days spent in hospital for diabetes-related complications in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Established Market Economies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several Western European countries). Finally, they calculated the economic costs of each complication using regional estimates of the costs per bed-day from the World Health Organization's CHOICE project (CHOosing Interventions that are Cost Effective). Nearly everyone in the study who developed heart failure attended a hospital, but only 15%–26% of people attended a hospital for kidney problems. The chances of hospitalization for any complication were lowest in Asia and highest in the Established Market Economies; conversely, lengths of stay were longest in Asia and shortest in the Established Market Economies. Finally, the estimated annual hospital costs for patients who had a coronary event, stroke, or heart failure were more than Int$1,800, Int$3,000, and Int$4,000 in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Established Market Economies, respectively (the international dollar, Int$, is a hypothetical currency that has the same purchasing power in all countries), compared to Int$76, Int$156, and Int$296 for patients who experienced none of these events.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because the ADVANCE trial had strict entry criteria, the findings of this study may not be generalizable to the broader population of people with diabetes. Nevertheless, given the lack of information about the costs associated with diabetes-related complications in low- and middle-income countries, these findings provide important new information about the patterns of hospital resource use and costs in these countries. Specifically, these findings show that the major complications of diabetes greatly increase hospital use and costs in all three economic regions considered and impose a high economic burden on health care systems that is likely to increase as the diabetes epidemic develops. Importantly, these findings should help policy makers anticipate the future health care costs associated with diabetes and should help them evaluate which therapies aimed at preventing diabetes-related complications will reduce these costs most effectively.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000236.
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about all aspects of diabetes
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides detailed information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service also provides information for patients and caregivers about type 2 diabetes (in several languages)
Information about the ADVANCE study is available
The World Health Organization's CHOICE Web site provides information about the analysis of the cost effectiveness of health care interventions
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000236
PMCID: PMC2826379  PMID: 20186272
9.  Readmissions after Hospitalization for Heart Failure, Acute Myocardial Infarction, or Pneumonia among Young and Middle-Aged Adults: A Retrospective Observational Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001737.
Isuru Ranasinghe and colleagues compare readmissions after hospitalization for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, or pneumonia in adults aged 18 to 64 years with readmissions in those aged 65 and older.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Patients aged ≥65 years are vulnerable to readmissions due to a transient period of generalized risk after hospitalization. However, whether young and middle-aged adults share a similar risk pattern is uncertain. We compared the rate, timing, and readmission diagnoses following hospitalization for heart failure (HF), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and pneumonia among patients aged 18–64 years with patients aged ≥65 years.
Methods and Findings
We used an all-payer administrative dataset from California consisting of all hospitalizations for HF (n = 206,141), AMI (n = 107,256), and pneumonia (n = 199,620) from 2007–2009. The primary outcomes were unplanned 30-day readmission rate, timing of readmission, and readmission diagnoses. Our findings show that the readmission rate among patients aged 18–64 years exceeded the readmission rate in patients aged ≥65 years in the HF cohort (23.4% vs. 22.0%, p<0.001), but was lower in the AMI (11.2% vs. 17.5%, p<0.001) and pneumonia (14.4% vs. 17.3%, p<0.001) cohorts. When adjusted for sex, race, comorbidities, and payer status, the 30-day readmission risk in patients aged 18–64 years was similar to patients ≥65 years in the HF (HR 0.99; 95%CI 0.97–1.02) and pneumonia (HR 0.97; 95%CI 0.94–1.01) cohorts and was marginally lower in the AMI cohort (HR 0.92; 95%CI 0.87–0.96). For all cohorts, the timing of readmission was similar; readmission risks were highest between days 2 and 5 and declined thereafter across all age groups. Diagnoses other than the index admission diagnosis accounted for a substantial proportion of readmissions among age groups <65 years; a non-cardiac diagnosis represented 39–44% of readmissions in the HF cohort and 37–45% of readmissions in the AMI cohort, while a non-pulmonary diagnosis represented 61–64% of patients in the pneumonia cohort.
Conclusion
When adjusted for differences in patient characteristics, young and middle-aged adults have 30-day readmission rates that are similar to elderly patients for HF, AMI, and pneumonia. A generalized risk after hospitalization is present regardless of age.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Many elderly people who are admitted to hospital, successfully treated, and discharged are readmitted soon after, often for an unrelated illness. In the US, for example, nearly a fifth of Medicare beneficiaries are readmitted to hospital within 30 days of discharge (Medicare is a national insurance program that primarily pays for health care services for Americans aged 65 and older). Experts have recently coined the term “post-hospital syndrome” for the transient period of increased susceptibility to a range of adverse health events that elderly patients seem to experience and have suggested that exposure to stress during hospital stays may underlie the syndrome. For example, hospital patients frequently have their sleep disrupted because of hospital routines, they are often in pain, they may have insufficient food intake (sometimes because they are waiting for an operation), and they may lose physical conditioning because they are confined to bed. These and other stressors can reduce individuals' natural reserves and increase their vulnerability to a range of illnesses and conditions.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although stress is one possible determinant of the post-hospital syndrome, the underlying causes and patterns of hospital readmission are generally poorly understood. In particular, it is not known whether the post-hospital syndrome affects young and middle-aged patients as well as elderly patients. Importantly, a better understanding of the post-hospital syndrome is needed before effective strategies to reduce hospital readmissions can be developed. In this retrospective observational cohort study, the researchers compare readmission rates, timing, and diagnoses after hospitalization for heart failure (HF), acute myocardial infarction (AMI; heart attack), and pneumonia among patients aged 18–64 years living in California with readmission rates, timing, and diagnoses among patients aged 65 years or older hospitalized for the same conditions. A retrospective observational cohort study analyzes data that has been already been collected for a group (cohort) of people. Readmission is common among people of all ages who are admitted to hospital for HF, AMI, and pneumonia, and readmissions after hospitalization for these conditions among elderly Medicare patients are used in the US as a measure of hospital quality; hospitals with high readmission rates are subject to a Medicare reimbursement penalty.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project inpatient dataset for California to identify all the hospitalizations for HF, AMI, and pneumonia in California in 2007–2009 and to obtain data on the 30-day unplanned rehospitalization rate, timing of readmission, and readmission diagnoses for the identified patients (more than half a million patients). Nearly 30% of all hospital readmissions after hospitalization for HF, AMI, and pneumonia in California occurred among patients aged 18–64. After hospitalization for AMI, pneumonia, and HF, 11.2%, 14.4%, and 23.4%, respectively, of young and middle-aged patients were readmitted. Notably, the 30-day readmission rate among patients aged 18–64 admitted for HF exceeded the readmission rate among elderly patients admitted for the same condition. After allowing for other factors likely to affect the risk of readmission such as other illnesses, the 30-day readmission risk in patients aged 18–64 was similar to that in patients aged 65 years or older admitted for HF and pneumonia and only marginally lower among patients admitted for AMI. Finally, the timing of readmission was similar in both age groups and diagnoses other than the index admission diagnosis accounted for a substantial proportion of readmissions in both age groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that after adjusting for differences in patient characteristics, the 30-day hospital readmission rates among young and middle-aged patients after hospitalization for HF, AMI, and pneumonia were similar to those among elderly patients. Moreover, the timing of readmission and the reasons for readmission among young and middle-aged patients were similar to those among elderly patients. These findings may not apply to other US states or to other countries and may not reflect the pattern of hospital readmissions following conditions other than HF, AMI, and pneumonia. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the post-hospital syndrome affects young and middle-aged as well as elderly patients. Hospital readmission should therefore be considered as a potential problem for people of all ages and broad-based, multidisciplinary strategies that target patients of all ages should be developed to mitigate the risk of hospital readmissions.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001737.
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement provides information about reducing avoidable hospital readmissions
Information about the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services readmissions reduction program is available
An article written by one of the study authors about the post-hospital syndrome is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001737
PMCID: PMC4181962  PMID: 25268126
10.  Program description: a hospitalist-run, medical short-stay unit in a teaching hospital 
A hospitalist-run medical short-stay unit (MSSU) was created at a university-affiliated teaching hospital in Montreal in 1989. Its primary aim was to provide efficient and high-quality care to patients requiring a brief stay in hospital for short-lived medical conditions. After evaluation in the emergency department (ED), patients judged to have acute conditions requiring a short hospital stay are admitted directly to the MSSU. Conversely, patients with more complex conditions requiring a longer stay in hospital are admitted to a clinical teaching unit (CTU). Care in the MSSU is provided by a rotating group of hospitalists. Ensuring the admission of appropriate patients during non-daytime hours was the main difficulty identified. Preliminary evaluation of the MSSU suggested that ED consultants were effective at selecting suitable patients for admission to the MSSU, because only 1 in 5 patients later required transfer to other hospital wards. The 5 most common MSSU discharge diagnoses were asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infection and cellulitis. MSSU patients had a shorter length of stay, lower rates of in-hospital complications and lower rates of readmission within 30 days of discharge compared with CTU patients. Our hospitalist-run MSSU appears to offer a workable system of health care delivery for patients with acute, self-limited illness requiring a brief stay in hospital. The MSSU appeared to promote the efficient use of hospital beds without compromising patient outcomes, however, further research is required to compare the efficiency and outcomes of care directly with that provided by the traditional CTU system.
PMCID: PMC80419  PMID: 11192657
11.  Costs of Healthcare- and Community-Associated Infections With Antimicrobial-Resistant Versus Antimicrobial-Susceptible Organisms 
Antimicrobial resistance was associated with higher charges, length of stay, and death rates. The difference in estimates after accounting for death highlight divergent social and hospital incentives in reducing patient risk for antimicrobial-resistant infections.
Objective. We compared differences in the hospital charges, length of hospital stay, and mortality between patients with healthcare- and community-associated bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia due to antimicrobial-resistant versus -susceptible bacterial strains.
Methods. A retrospective analysis of an electronic database compiled from laboratory, pharmacy, surgery, financial, and patient location and device utilization sources was undertaken on 5699 inpatients who developed healthcare- or community-associated infections between 2006 and 2008 from 4 hospitals (1 community, 1 pediatric, 2 tertiary/quaternary care) in Manhattan. The main outcome measures were hospital charges, length of stay, and mortality among patients with antimicrobial-resistant and -susceptible infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus faecalis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii.
Results. Controlling for multiple confounders using linear regression and nearest neighbor matching based on propensity score estimates, resistant healthcare- and community-associated infections, when compared with susceptible strains of the same organism, were associated with significantly higher charges ($15 626; confidence interval [CI], $4339–$26 913 and $25 573; CI, $9331–$41 816, respectively) and longer hospital stays for community-associated infections (3.3; CI, 1.5–5.4). Patients with resistant healthcare-associated infections also had a significantly higher death rate (0.04; CI, 0.01–0.08).
Conclusions. With careful matching of patients infected with the same organism, antimicrobial resistance was associated with higher charges, length of stay, and death rates. The difference in estimates after accounting for censoring for death highlight divergent social and hospital incentives in reducing patient risk for antimicrobial resistant infections.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis552
PMCID: PMC3491852  PMID: 22700828
12.  Physiotherapy Rehabilitation After Total Knee or Hip Replacement 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this health technology policy analysis was to determine, where, how, and when physiotherapy services are best delivered to optimize functional outcomes for patients after they undergo primary (first-time) total hip replacement or total knee replacement, and to determine the Ontario-specific economic impact of the best delivery strategy. The objectives of the systematic review were as follows:
To determine the effectiveness of inpatient physiotherapy after discharge from an acute care hospital compared with outpatient physiotherapy delivered in either a clinic-based or home-based setting for primary total joint replacement patients
To determine the effectiveness of outpatient physiotherapy delivered by a physiotherapist in either a clinic-based or home-based setting in addition to a home exercise program compared with a home exercise program alone for primary total joint replacement patients
To determine the effectiveness of preoperative exercise for people who are scheduled to receive primary total knee or hip replacement surgery
Clinical Need
Total hip replacements and total knee replacements are among the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Ontario. Physiotherapy rehabilitation after first-time total hip or knee replacement surgery is accepted as the standard and essential treatment. The aim is to maximize a person’s functionality and independence and minimize complications such as hip dislocation (for hip replacements), wound infection, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.
The Therapy
The physiotherapy rehabilitation routine has 4 components: therapeutic exercise, transfer training, gait training, and instruction in the activities of daily living. Physiotherapy rehabilitation for people who have had total joint replacement surgery varies in where, how, and when it is delivered. In Ontario, after discharge from an acute care hospital, people who have had a primary total knee or hip replacement may receive inpatient or outpatient physiotherapy. Inpatient physiotherapy is delivered in a rehabilitation hospital or specialized hospital unit. Outpatient physiotherapy is done either in an outpatient clinic (clinic-based) or in the person’s home (home-based). Home-based physiotherapy may include practising an exercise program at home with or without supplemental support from a physiotherapist.
Finally, physiotherapy rehabilitation may be administered at several points after surgery, including immediately postoperatively (within the first 5 days) and in the early recovery period (within the first 3 months) after discharge. There is a growing interest in whether physiotherapy should start before surgery. A variety of practises exist, and evidence regarding the optimal pre- and post-acute course of rehabilitation to obtain the best outcomes is needed.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search strategy, which included searching the databases of Ovid MEDLINE, CINHAL, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and PEDro from 1995 to 2005. English-language articles including systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), non-RCTs, and studies with a sample size of greater than 10 patients were included. Studies had to include patients undergoing primary total hip or total knee replacement, aged 18 years of age or older, and they had to have investigated one of the following comparisons: inpatient rehabilitation versus outpatient (clinic- or home-based therapy) rehabilitation, land-based post-acute care physiotherapy delivered by a physiotherapist compared with patient self-administered exercise and a land-based exercise program before surgery. The primary outcome was postoperative physical functioning. Secondary outcomes included the patient’s assessment of therapeutic effect (overall improvement), perceived pain intensity, health services utilization, treatment side effects, and adverse events
The quality of the methods of the included studies was assessed using the criteria outlined in the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Injuries Group Quality Assessment Tool. After this, a summary of the biases threatening study validity was determined. Four methodological biases were considered: selection bias, performance bias, attrition bias, and detection bias. A meta-analysis was conducted when adequate data were available from 2 or more studies and where there was no statistical or clinical heterogeneity among studies. The GRADE system was used to summarize the overall quality of evidence.
Summary of Findings
The search yielded 422 citations; of these, 12 were included in the review including 10 primary studies (9 RCTs, 1 non-RCT) and 2 systematic reviews.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat review included 2 primary studies (N = 334) that examined the effectiveness of an inpatient physiotherapy rehabilitation program compared with an outpatient home-based physiotherapy program on functional outcomes after total knee or hip replacement surgery. One study, available only as an abstract, found no difference in functional outcome at 1 year after surgery (TKR or THR) between the treatments. The other study was an observational study that found that patients who are younger than 71 years of age on average, who do not live alone, and who do not have comorbid illnesses recover adequate function with outpatient home-based physiotherapy. However results were only measured up to 3 months after surgery, and the outcome measure they used is not considered the best one for physical functioning.
Three primary studies (N = 360) were reviewed that tested the effectiveness of outpatient home-based or clinic-based physiotherapy in addition to a self-administered home exercise program, compared with a self-administered exercise program only or in addition to using another therapy (phone calls or continuous passive movement), on postoperative physical functioning after primary TKR surgery. Two of the studies reported no difference in change from baseline in flexion range of motion between those patients receiving outpatient or home-based physiotherapy and doing a home exercise program compared with patients who did a home exercise program only with or without continuous passive movement. The other study reported no difference in the Western Ontario and McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores between patients receiving clinic-based physiotherapy and practising a home exercise program and those who received monitoring phone calls and did a home exercise program after TKR surgery.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat reviewed two systematic reviews evaluating the effects of preoperative exercise on postoperative physical functioning. One concluded that preoperative exercise is not effective in improving functional recovery or pain after TKR and any effects after THR could not be adequately determined. The other concluded that there was inconclusive evidence to determine the benefits of preoperative exercise on functional recovery after TKR. Because 2 primary studies were added to the published literature since the publication of these systematic reviews the Medical Advisory Secretariat revisited the question of effectiveness of a preoperative exercise program for patients scheduled for TKR ad THR surgery.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat also reviewed 3 primary studies (N = 184) that tested the effectiveness of preoperative exercise beginning 4-6 weeks before surgery on postoperative outcomes after primary TKR surgery. All 3 studies reported negative findings with regard to the effectiveness of preoperative exercise to improve physical functioning after TKR surgery. However, 2 failed to show an effect of the preoperative exercise program before surgery in those patients receiving preoperative exercise. The third study did not measure functional outcome immediately before surgery in the preoperative exercise treatment group; therefore the study’s authors could not document an effect of the preoperative exercise program before surgery. Regarding health services utilization, 2 of the studies did not find significant differences in either the length of the acute care hospital stay or the inpatient rehabilitation care setting between patients treated with a preoperative exercise program and those not treated. The third study did not measure health services utilization.
These results must be interpreted within the limitations and the biases of each study. Negative results do not necessarily support a lack of treatment effect but may be attributed to a type II statistical error.
Finally, the Medical Advisory Secretariat reviewed 2 primary studies (N = 136) that examined the effectiveness of preoperative exercise on postoperative functional outcomes after primary THR surgery. One study did not support the effectiveness of an exercise program beginning 8 weeks before surgery. However, results from the other did support the effectiveness of an exercise program 8 weeks before primary THR surgery on pain and functional outcomes 1 week before and 3 weeks after surgery.
Conclusions
Based on the evidence, the Medical Advisory Secretariat reached the following conclusions with respect to physiotherapy rehabilitation and physical functioning 1 year after primary TKR or THR surgery:
There is high-quality evidence from 1 large RCT to support the use of home-based physiotherapy instead of inpatient physiotherapy after primary THR or TKR surgery.
There is low-to-moderate quality evidence from 1 large RCT to support the conclusion that receiving a monitoring phone call from a physiotherapist and practising home exercises is comparable to receiving clinic-based physiotherapy and practising home exercises for people who have had primary TKR surgery. However, results may not be generalizable to those who have had THR surgery.
There is moderate evidence to suggest that an exercise program beginning 4 to 6 weeks before primary TKR surgery is not effective.
There is moderate evidence to support the effectiveness of an exercise program beginning 8 weeks before surgery to improve physical functioning 3 weeks after THR surgery.
PMCID: PMC3382414  PMID: 23074477
13.  Improved outcomes for elderly patients who received care on a transitional care unit 
Canadian Family Physician  2014;60(5):e263-e271.
Abstract
Objective
To determine whether providing elderly alternate level of care (ALC) patients with interdisciplinary care on a transitional care unit (TCU) achieves better clinical outcomes and lowers costs compared with providing them with standard hospital care.
Design
Before-and-after structured retrospective chart audit.
Setting
St Joseph’s Hospital in Comox, BC.
Participants
One hundred thirty-five consecutively admitted patients aged 70 years and older with ALC designation during 5-month periods before (n = 49) and after (n = 86) the opening of an on-site TCU.
Main outcome measures
Length of stay, discharge disposition, complications of the acute and ALC portions of the patients’ hospital stays, activities of daily living (mobility, transfers, and urinary continence), psychotropic medications and vitamin D prescriptions, and ALC patient care costs, as well as annual hospital savings, were examined.
Results
Among the 86 ALC patients receiving care during the postintervention period, 57 (66%) were admitted to the TCU; 29 of the 86 (34%) patients in the postintervention group received standard care (SC). All 86 ALC patients in the postintervention group were compared with the 49 preintervention ALC patients who received SC. Length of stay reduction occurred among the postintervention group during the acute portion of the hospital stay (14.0 days postintervention group vs 22.5 days preintervention group; P < .01). Discharge home or to an assisted-living facility increased among the postintervention group (30% postintervention group vs 12% preintervention group; P < .01). Patients’ ability to transfer improved among the postintervention group (55% postintervention group vs 14% preintervention group; P < .01). At discharge, 48% of ALC patients in the postintervention group were able to transfer independently compared with 17% of ALC patients in the preintervention group. Hospital-acquired infections among the postintervention group decreased during the acute phase (14% postintervention group vs 33% preintervention group; P < .01) and in the ALC phase of hospital stay (16% postintervention group vs 31% preintervention group; P = .011). Antipsychotic prescriptions decreased among the postintervention group (45% postintervention group vs 66% preintervention group; P = .026). Despite greater use of rehabilitation services, TCU costs per patient were lower ($155/d postintervention period vs $273/d preintervention period).
Conclusion
Elderly ALC patients experienced improvements in health and function at reduced cost after the creation of an interdisciplinary TCU, to which most of the nonpalliative ALC patients were transferred. Although all the postintervention ALC patients (those admitted to the TCU and those who received SC) were analyzed together, it is very likely that the greatest gains were made in the ALC patients who received care in the TCU.
PMCID: PMC4020664  PMID: 24829021
14.  Clinical characteristics and mortality of hospitalized alcoholic hepatitis patients in the United States 
Background and aims
Alcoholic hepatitis (AH) is the most florid manifestation of alcoholic liver disease. In this study, we examined the clinical characteristics and risk factors associated with mortality in hospitalized alcoholic hepatitis patients in the United States using the 2007 Nationwide inpatient sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.
Methods
Patients who were hospitalized with the primary diagnosis of alcoholic hepatitis in the United States in 2007 were identified using ICD-9 code. We further characterized these subjects based on associated symptoms (such as ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, and coagulopathy), complications during hospitalization (such as sepsis, pneumonia, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, acute renal failure, as well as categories pertaining to hospital characteristics, such teaching status. The predictors of mortality were calculated using logistic regression analyses.
Results
There were 8,043,415 inpatient admissions, of which 56,809 (0.71%) were hospitalized with the primary diagnosis of AH. The mean age was 53.2 years, and 27% were female. The average length of stay (LOS) was 6.5 ± 7.7 days and 3,881 subjects (6.8%) died during hospitalization. Medicare and Medicaid were the main primary expected payer sources (51.8%) with the average total charges during hospital stay of $37,769. In the multivariate analyses, older age, presence of sepsis, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, acute renal failure, hepatic encephalopathy and coagulopathy were independently associated with inpatient mortality.
Conclusion
In-hospital mortality rate for AH remains high, especially in those with infectious complications, hepatic encephalopathy, coagulopathy, and acute renal failure. Our analysis documented significant healthcare cost and utilization among hospitalized AH patients.
doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181fdef1d
PMCID: PMC3135756  PMID: 21085006
Alcoholic hepatitis; in-hospital mortality; NIS data
15.  Provider volume and other predictors of outcome after total knee arthroplasty: a population study in Ontario 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2003;46(1):15-22.
Introduction
Because of rationing of the limited pool of health care resources, access to total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is limited, but investigation of variables that predict complications, length of hospital stay, cost and outcomes of TKA may allow us to optimize the available resources. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of various factors on complication rates after TKA in patients managed in Ontario.
Methods
Patients who had undergone an elective TKA between 1993 and 1996, as captured in the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) database, formed the study cohort. The CIHI dataset was used to obtain information regarding in-hospital complications, hospital length of stay, revision rates, infection rates and mortality. Generalized estimating linear or logistic regression equations were used to model outcomes as a function of age, gender, comorbidity, diagnosis and provider volume.
Results
During the study period, 14 352 patients in Ontario underwent TKA. Mortality at 3 months was associated with patient age, gender and comorbidity. There was no association between provider volume and mortality or the infection rate. Higher revision rates at 1 and 3 years were significantly associated with lower patient age and low hospital volume (p < 0.05). Hospitals in which fewer than 48 TKA procedures were done per year (< 40th percentile) had 2.2-fold greater 1-year revision rates than hospitals performing more than 113 TKAs annually (> 80th percentile). Complications during admission were associated with increased patient age and comorbidity, and higher hospital volume. Longer hospital stay was associated with female gender, increasing patient comorbidity and age, and lower provider volume. Surgeons who performed fewer than 14 TKAs annually (< 40th percentile) kept patients in hospital an average of 1.4 days longer than surgeons performing more than 42 TKAs annually (> 80th percentile).
Conclusions
Patient variables significantly affect the rate of complications. Age, sex and comorbidity were significant predictors of complications, length of hospital stay and mortality after TKA. Although low surgeon volume was related to longer hospital stay, there was no association between surgeon volume and complication rates. The increased early revision rate for low-volume hospitals demands further study.
PMCID: PMC3211664  PMID: 12585788
16.  Predictors of postoperative pulmonary complications after liver resection: Results from a tertiary care intensive care unit 
Background:
Postoperative pulmonary complication (PPC) is a serious complication after liver surgery and is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the intensive care unit (ICU). Therefore, the early identification of risk factors of PPCs may help to reduce the adverse outcomes.
Objective:
The aim of this retrospective study was to determine the predictors of PPCs in patients undergoing hepatic resection. Design: Retrospective, observational.
Methods:
The patients admitted after hepatic resection in the gastrosurgical ICU of our institute between October 2009 and June 2013 was identified. The ICU charts were retrieved from the database to identify patients who developed PPCs. A comparison of risk factors was made between the patients who developed PPC (PPC group) against the patients who did not (no-PPC group).
Results:
Of 117 patients with hepatic resection, 28 patients developed PPCs. Among these, pneumonia accounted for 12 (42.8%) followed by atelectasis in 8 (28.5%) and pleural effusion in 3 (10.7%). Among the patients developing PPCs, 16 patients were over a 70-year-old (57.1%), 21 patients were smokers (75%) and 8 patients (28.5%) had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The requirement for blood transfusion and duration of mechanical ventilation were greater in the patients developing PPC (2000 ± 340 vs. 1000 ± 210 ml; 10 ± 4.5 vs. 3 ± 1.3 days).
Conclusion:
Old age, chronic smoking, COPD, increased blood product transfusion, increased duration of mechanical ventilation and increased length of ICU stay increased the relative risk of PPC, presence of diabetes and occurrence of surgical complications (leak, dehiscence, etc.) were independent predictive variables for the development of PPC.
doi:10.4103/0972-5229.133882
PMCID: PMC4071679  PMID: 24987234
Hepatic resection; postoperative pulmonary complications; posthepatic resection complications
17.  Costs of Healthcare- and Community-Associated Infections With Antimicrobial-Resistant Versus Antimicrobial-Susceptible Organisms 
Objective
We compared differences in the hospital charges, length of hospital stay, and mortality between patients with healthcare- and community-associated bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia due to antimicrobial-resistant versus -susceptible bacterial strains.
Methods
A retrospective analysis of an electronic database compiled from laboratory, pharmacy, surgery, financial, and patient location and device utilization sources was undertaken on 5699 inpatients who developed healthcare-or community-associated infections between 2006 and 2008 from 4 hospitals (1 community, 1 pediatric, 2 tertiary/quaternary care) in Manhattan. The main outcome measures were hospital charges, length of stay, and mortality among patients with antimicrobial-resistant and -susceptible infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus faecalis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii.
Results
Controlling for multiple confounders using linear regression and nearest neighbor matching based on propensity score estimates, resistant healthcare- and community-associated infections, when compared with susceptible strains of the same organism, were associated with significantly higher charges ($15 626; confidence interval [CI], $4339–$26 913 and $25 573; CI, $9331–$41 816, respectively) and longer hospital stays for community-associated infections (3.3; CI, 1.5–5.4). Patients with resistant healthcare-associated infections also had a significantly higher death rate (0.04; CI, 0.01–0.08).
Conclusions
With careful matching of patients infected with the same organism, antimicrobial resistance was associated with higher charges, length of stay, and death rates. The difference in estimates after accounting for censoring for death highlight divergent social and hospital incentives in reducing patient risk for antimicrobial resistant infections.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis552
PMCID: PMC3491852  PMID: 22700828
18.  Effect of Emergency Department Crowding on Outcomes of Admitted Patients 
Annals of emergency medicine  2012;61(6):605-611.e6.
Study objective
Emergency department (ED) crowding is a prevalent health delivery problem and may adversely affect the outcomes of patients requiring admission. We assess the association of ED crowding with subsequent outcomes in a general population of hospitalized patients.
Methods
We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of patients admitted in 2007 through the EDs of nonfederal, acute care hospitals in California. The primary outcome was inpatient mortality. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay and costs. ED crowding was established by the proxy measure of ambulance diversion hours on the day of admission. To control for hospital-level confounders of ambulance diversion, we defined periods of high ED crowding as those days within the top quartile of diversion hours for a specific facility. Hierarchic regression models controlled for demographics, time variables, patient comorbidities, primary diagnosis, and hospital fixed effects. We used bootstrap sampling to estimate excess outcomes attributable to ED crowding.
Results
We studied 995,379 ED visits resulting in admission to 187 hospitals. Patients who were admitted on days with high ED crowding experienced 5% greater odds of inpatient death (95% confidence interval [CI] 2% to 8%), 0.8% longer hospital length of stay (95% CI 0.5% to 1%), and 1% increased costs per admission (95% CI 0.7% to 2%). Excess outcomes attributable to periods of high ED crowding included 300 inpatient deaths (95% CI 200 to 500 inpatient deaths), 6,200 hospital days (95% CI 2,800 to 8,900 hospital days), and $17 million (95% CI $11 to $23 million) in costs.
Conclusion
Periods of high ED crowding were associated with increased inpatient mortality and modest increases in length of stay and costs for admitted patients.
doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.10.026
PMCID: PMC3690784  PMID: 23218508
19.  A comprehensive joint replacement program for total knee arthroplasty: a descriptive study 
Background
Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a commonly performed surgical procedure in the US. It is important to have a comprehensive inpatient TKA program which maximizes outcomes while minimizing adverse events. The purpose of this study was to describe a TKA program – the Joint Replacement Program (JRP) – and report post-surgical outcomes.
Methods
74 candidates for a primary TKA were enrolled in the JRP. The JRP was designed to minimize complications and optimize patient-centered outcomes using a team approach including the patient, patient's family, and a multidisciplinary team of health professionals. The JRP consisted of a pre-operative class, standard pathways for medical care, comprehensive peri-operative pain management, aggressive physical therapy (PT), and proactive discharge planning. Measures included functional tests, knee range of motion (ROM), and medical record abstraction of patient demographics, length of stay, discharge disposition, and complications over a 6-month follow-up period.
Results
All patients achieved medical criteria for hospital discharge. The patients achieved the knee flexion ROM goal of 90° (91.7 ± 5.4°), but did not achieve the knee extension ROM goal of 0° (2.4 ± 2.6°). The length of hospital stay was two days for 53% of the patients, with 39% and 7% discharged in three and four days, respectively. All but three patients were discharged home with functional independence. 68% of these received outpatient physical therapy compared with 32% who received home physical therapy immediately after discharge. Two patients (< 3%) had medical complications during the inpatient hospital stay, and 9 patients (12%) had complications during the 6-month follow-up period.
Conclusion
The comprehensive JRP for TKA was associated with satisfactory clinical outcomes, short lengths of stay, a high percentage of patients discharged home with outpatient PT, and minimal complications. This JRP may represent an efficient, effective and safe protocol for providing care after a TKA.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-154
PMCID: PMC2596133  PMID: 19019241
20.  Maternal Clinical Diagnoses and Hospital Variation in the Risk of Cesarean Delivery: Analyses of a National US Hospital Discharge Database 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001745.
Katy Kozhimannil and colleagues use a national database to examine the extent to which variability in cesarean section rates across the US from 2009–2010 was attributable to individual women's clinical diagnoses.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Cesarean delivery is the most common inpatient surgery in the United States, where 1.3 million cesarean sections occur annually, and rates vary widely by hospital. Identifying sources of variation in cesarean use is crucial to improving the consistency and quality of obstetric care. We used hospital discharge records to examine the extent to which variability in the likelihood of cesarean section across US hospitals was attributable to individual women's clinical diagnoses.
Methods and Findings
Using data from the 2009 and 2010 Nationwide Inpatient Sample from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project—a 20% sample of US hospitals—we analyzed data for 1,475,457 births in 1,373 hospitals. We fitted multilevel logistic regression models (patients nested in hospitals). The outcome was cesarean (versus vaginal) delivery. Covariates included diagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy, hypertension in pregnancy, hemorrhage during pregnancy or placental complications, fetal distress, and fetal disproportion or obstructed labor; maternal age, race/ethnicity, and insurance status; and hospital size and location/teaching status.
The cesarean section prevalence was 22.0% (95% confidence interval 22.0% to 22.1%) among women with no prior cesareans. In unadjusted models, the between-hospital variation in the individual risk of primary cesarean section was 0.14 (95% credible interval 0.12 to 0.15). The difference in the probability of having a cesarean delivery between hospitals was 25 percentage points. Hospital variability did not decrease after adjusting for patient diagnoses, socio-demographics, and hospital characteristics (0.16 [95% credible interval 0.14 to 0.18]). A limitation is that these data, while nationally representative, did not contain information on parity or gestational age.
Conclusions
Variability across hospitals in the individual risk of cesarean section is not decreased by accounting for differences in maternal diagnoses. These findings highlight the need for more comprehensive or linked data including parity and gestational age as well as examination of other factors—such as hospital policies, practices, and culture—in determining cesarean section use.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In an ideal world, all babies would be delivered safely and naturally through their mother's vagina. However, increasing numbers of babies are being delivered by cesarean section, a surgical operation in which the baby is delivered through a cut made in the mother's abdomen and womb. In the US, a third of all babies (about 1.3 million babies in 2011) are delivered this way. A cesarean section is usually performed when a vaginal birth would endanger the life of the mother or her unborn child because, for example, the baby is in the wrong position or the labor is not progressing normally. Some cesarean sections are performed as emergency procedures, but others are planned in advance when the need for the operation becomes clear during pregnancy. Although cesarean sections can save lives, women who deliver this way have higher rates of infection, pain, and complications in future pregnancies than women who deliver vaginally, and their babies can have breathing problems.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, cesarean section rates vary widely from country to country and from hospital to hospital within countries. Careful assessment of the risks and benefits of cesarean delivery in individual patients can help to ensure that cesarean sections are used only when necessary, but changes to clinical and policy guidelines are also needed to ensure that cesarean delivery is neither overused nor underused. To guide these changes, we need to know whether cesarean section rates vary among hospitals because of case-mix differences (some hospitals may have high rates because they admit many women with complicated pregnancies, for example) or because of differences in modifiable nonclinical factors such as hospital policies and practices. In this retrospective multilevel analysis, the researchers examine whether the current wide variation in cesarean section rates across US hospitals is attributable to differences in maternal clinical diagnoses and patient characteristics or to hospital-level differences in the use of cesarean delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, the researchers used hospital discharge data on nearly 1.5 million births in 1,373 hospitals collected by the 2009 and 2010 US Nationwide Inpatient Sample database, which captures administrative data (for example, length of stay in hospital and clinical complications) from a representative sample of 20% of US hospitals. To assess the chances of cesarean delivery based on hospital and patient characteristics, researchers fitted these data to multilevel logistic regression statistical models. Among women with no prior cesarean deliveries, the (primary) cesarean section rate was 22%, whereas among the whole study population, it was 33% (women who have one cesarean delivery often have a cesarean section for subsequent deliveries). In unadjusted models that compared cesarean section rates between hospitals without considering patient characteristics, the between-hospital variance for primary cesarean section rate was 0.14. Put another way, the likelihood of an individual having a first cesarean delivery varied between 11% and 36% across the hospitals considered. After adjustment for maternal clinical diagnoses, maternal age and other socio-demographic factors, and hospital characteristics such as size, the between-hospital variance for the primary cesarean section rate was 0.16.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding that the between-hospital variance for primary cesarean section rate did not decrease after adjusting for maternal characteristics (and other findings presented by the researchers) suggests that differences in case mix or pregnancy complexity may not drive the wide variability in cesarean section rates across US hospitals. However, the lack of information in the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample database on parity (the number of babies a woman has had) or gestational age (the length of time the baby has spent developing inside its mother) limits the strength of this conclusion. Both parity and gestational age strongly predict a woman's risk of a cesarean delivery. Thus, unmeasured differences in the parity of women admitted to different hospitals and/or the gestational age of their babies may be driving some of the variability in cesarean section rates across US hospitals. The lack of hospital-level information on obstetric care policies in the database also means that the many possible administrative explanations for variations across hospitals cannot be assessed. These findings therefore highlight the need for more comprehensive patient data to be collected (including information on parity and gestational age) and on hospital policies, practices, and culture before the variation in cesarean section rate across US hospitals can be fully understood and the use of cesarean delivery can be optimized.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001745.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Gordon C. S. Smith
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides a fact sheet for patients on cesarean birth
The American College of Nurse-Midwives provides a fact sheet for pregnant women on preventing cesarean birth
The US-based Childbirth Connection Project of the non-profit National Partnership for Women and Families has a booklet called “What Every Woman Should Know about Cesarean Section”
The US-based non-profit Nemours Foundation provides detailed information about cesarean sections (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients about delivery by cesarean section
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cesarean section (in English and Spanish)
The UK non-profit organization Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about women's experiences of cesarean delivery
Information about the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample database is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001745
PMCID: PMC4205118  PMID: 25333943
21.  A case study of hospital closure and centralization of coronary revascularization procedures 
Background
Despite nation-wide efforts to reduce health care costs through hospital closures and centralization of services, little is known about the impact of such actions. We conducted this study to determine the effect of a hospital closure in Calgary and the resultant centralization of coronary revascularization procedures from 2 facilities to a single location.
Methods
Administrative data were used to identify patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), including those who had combined CABG and valve procedures, and patients who underwent percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTCA) in the Calgary Regional Health Authority from July 1994 to March 1998. This period represents the 21 months preceding and the 24 months following the March 1996 hospital closure. Measures, including mean number of discharges, length of hospital stay, burden of comorbidity and in-hospital death rates, were compared before and after the hospital closure for CABG and PTCA patients. Multivariate analyses were used to derive risk-adjustment models to control for sociodemographic variables and comorbidity.
Results
The number of patients undergoing CABG was higher in the year following than in the year preceding the hospital closure (51.6 per 100 000 before v. 67.3 per 100 000 after the closure); the same was true for the number of patients undergoing PTCA (129.8 v. 143.6 per 100 000). The burden of comorbidity was significantly higher after than before the closure, both for CABG patients (comorbidity index 1.3 before v. 1.5 after closure, p < 0.001) and for PTCA patients (comorbidity index 1.0 before v. 1.1 after, p = 0.04). After adjustment for comorbidity, the mean length of hospital stay was significantly lower after than before the closure for CABG patients (by 1.3 days) and for PTCA patients (by 1.0 days). The adjusted rates of death were slightly lower after than before the closure in the CABG group. The adjusted rates of death or CABG in the PTCA group did not differ significantly between the 2 periods.
Interpretation
Hospital closure and the centralization of coronary revascularization procedures in Calgary was associated with increased population rates of procedures being performed, on sicker patients, with shorter hospital stays, and, for CABG patients, a trend toward more favourable short-term outcomes. Our findings indicate that controversial changes to the structure of the health care system can occur without loss of efficiency and reduction in quality of care.
PMCID: PMC81069  PMID: 11387915
22.  Injury patterns and outcomes associated with elderly trauma victims in Kingston, Ontario 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2007;50(6):437-444.
Objective
To characterize the common injuries incurred by elderly trauma victims and to identify the most frequent complications and outcomes.
Methods
We undertook a retrospective descriptive chart review of 125 consecutive patients who were over age 65 years and who were admitted to an academic hospital in Kingston, Ontario, over a 3-year period with an injury severity score (ISS) > 12. Complete data about the mechanism of injury (MOI), age, date, sex, specific injury, principal and secondary diagnoses, comorbid conditions, intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay and discharge disposition were recorded for 99 of these patients.
Results
Elderly trauma cases accounted for 125 of the total 460 trauma admissions over 3 years. For that same period, more than 50% of trauma deaths occurred among elderly patients, of whom 65 were men and 34 were women. Their mean age was 77 (standard deviation [SD] 6) years, with an age range of 66–95 years. The average ISS score was 23 (SD 13), with a range of 12–75. MOI included falls (64%), motor vehicle collision (27%), injury from machinery (3%), injury from natural and environmental causes (2%), suicide or self-inflicted injury (3%) and burns (1%). The mean length of stay was 14.6 days, but this ranged from 1 to 111 days. Of the 99 patients, 14 were admitted to the ICU for a total of 37 days, and 9 of these died. Of the total of 67 (67%) patients who were discharged from hospital, 46% were discharged home and 32% died. Falls accounted for the most frequent MOI, followed by motor vehicle collisions. The most common injury in the falls group was subdural hematoma, whereas fractures were the most common injuries in the motor vehicle collision group. The most frequent complications included urinary tract infections and aspiration pneumonias. Neither age nor MOI was correlated with injury severity. Increasing age and injury severity were predictors for complications and mortality while in hospital.
Conclusions
Despite severe injuries, most elderly patients can survive traumatic injuries. The data suggest that, although elderly patients are prone to incur complications and have greater risk of dying as a result of their injuries, most of these patients will survive their traumatic accidents. The data also show that nosocomial complications play a significant role in the risk of mortality in elderly trauma victims.
PMCID: PMC2386230  PMID: 18053371
23.  Health care restructuring and family physician care for those who died of cancer 
Background
During the 1990s, health care restructuring in Nova Scotia resulted in downsized hospitals, reduced inpatient length of stay, capped physician incomes and restricted practice locations. Concurrently, the provincial homecare program was redeveloped and out-of-hospital cancer deaths increased from 20% (1992) to 30% (1998). These factors all pointed to a transfer of end-of-life inpatient hospital care to more community-based care. The purpose of this study was to describe the trends in the provision of Family Physician (FP) visits to advanced cancer patients in Nova Scotia (NS) during the years of health care restructuring.
Methods
Design Secondary multivariate analysis of linked population-based datafiles including the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Oncology Patient Information System (NS Cancer Registry, Vital Statistics), the NS Hospital Admissions/Separations file and the Medical Services Insurance Physician Services database. Setting Nova Scotia, an eastern Canadian province (population: 950,000). Subjects: All patients who died of lung, colorectal, breast or prostate cancer between April 1992 and March 1998 (N = 7,212). Outcome Measures Inpatient and ambulatory FP visits, ambulatory visits by location (office, home, long-term care facility, emergency department), time of day (regular hours, after hours), total length of inpatient hospital stay and number of hospital admissions during the last six months of life.
Results
In total, 139,641 visits were provided by family physicians: 15% of visits in the office, 10% in the home, 5% in the emergency department (ED), 5% in a long-term-care centre and 64% to hospital inpatients. There was no change in the rate of FP visits received for office, home and long-term care despite the fact that there were 13% fewer hospital admissions, and length of hospital stay declined by 21%. Age-sex adjusted estimates using negative binomial regression indicate a decline in hospital inpatient FP visits over time compared to 1992–93 levels (for 1997–98, adjusted RR = 0.88, 95%CI = 0.81–0.95) and an increase in FP ED visits (for 1997–98, adjusted RR = 1.18, 95%CI = 1.05–1.34).
Conclusion
Despite hospital downsizing and fewer deaths occurring in hospitals, FP ambulatory visits (except for ED visits) did not rise correspondingly. Although such restructuring resulted in more people dying out of hospital, it does not appear FPs responded by providing more medical care to them in the community.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-1
PMCID: PMC545965  PMID: 15631626
24.  Midurethral Slings for Women with Stress Urinary Incontinence 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of the current review was to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of midurethral slings compared with traditional surgery.
Background
This assessment was undertaken in order to update and expand upon the health technology & policy assessment of tension-free vaginal tape (TVT, Gynecare Worldwide, a division of Ethicon Inc, a Johnson & Johnson company, Somerville, New Jersey) sling procedure for stress urinary incontinence published by the Medical Advisory Secretariat in February 2004. Since the publication of the 2004 assessment, a number of TVT-like sling alternatives have become available which employ the same basic principles as TVT slings: minimally invasive, midurethral placement, self-fixing, and tension-free. This update will evaluate the efficacy and safety of midurethral slings.
Clinical Need
Normal continence is controlled by the nervous system and involves co-ordination between bladder, urethra, urethral sphincter, and pelvic floor. Incontinence occurs when the relationship among the above components is compromised, either due to physical damage or nerve dysfunction. (1) Stress urinary incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence in women. It is characterized by the “complaint of involuntary leakage on effort or exertion, or on sneezing or coughing” when there is increased abdominal pressure without detrusor (bladder wall) contraction. (2) There are 2 factors which define stress urinary incontinence: a weakening in the support of the proximal urethra, causing urethral hyper-mobility and deficiency in the sphincter, causing urethral leakage. Both factors are thought to coexist. (1) Accurate tests are not available to distinguish these 2 types of stress urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is estimated to affect about 250,000 Canadian women and 8 million American women aged 65 and over. (3;4) The prevalence of stress urinary incontinence is very difficult to measure because women with stress urinary incontinence may not tell their health practitioner about their symptoms due to embarrassment associated with stress urinary incontinence. A cross-sectional postal survey of 15,904 adults aged 40 and over who were registered with a local GP in Leicestershire, United Kingdom, revealed that 18% to 34% of respondents had symptoms of SUI. (5) Just over 9% reported symptoms “sometimes,” while almost 3% reported symptoms “most of the time.” Stress urinary incontinence was most common for women in their 50s. A more recent study suggests that 24% of women aged 18 to 44 years and 37% of women aged 45 and over have symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. (6)
Stress urinary incontinence has been associated with a broad range of psychosocial stress and disablement, such as difficulties with activities of daily living, avoidance of social activities, fear of unpleasant odour, and embarrassment. (7) Economic burden may include the cost of pads, drugs, and devices, and the inability to participate in the work force in severe cases.
Midurethral Slings
Suburethral slings differ according to several criteria including placement, approach, method of fixation, and sling material. This review will evaluate slings which fulfill all of the following criteria:
Midurethral placement (as opposed to bladder neck placement)
Self-fixing (no sutures, bone anchors, etc.)
Minimally invasive (using local, epidural, or general anesthesia)
“Tension-free” placement
The different types of midurethral slings available vary according to 3 main parameters:
Implant material, i.e., monofilament, multifilament, elastic, non-elastic, smooth, serrated, etc.,
Delivery instruments, i.e., needles, curved trocars, disposable, reusable, etc.,
Surgical approach
As any one, or any combination of these parameters may vary across the different sling brands, it is difficult to ascribe observed differences in efficacy and safety across slings to any one factor.
Review Strategy
The literature published between January 2000 and February 2006 was searched in the following databases: OVID Medline, In Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and CENTRAL, INAHTA. The database search was supplemented with a search of relevant Web sites, and a review of the bibliographies of selected papers. The search strategy can be viewed in Appendix 1.
Inclusion Criteria
General population with SUI
Randomized controlled studies, health technology assessments, guidelines
Female subjects
Midurethral, self-fixing, and minimally invasive slings/tapes
English language
The search strategy yielded 391 original citations. Studies were excluded for a variety of reasons, such as using traditional, suburethral slings as opposed to midurethral slings, not including patients with stress urinary incontinence, including males in the study, case reports, and not reporting the outcomes of interest.
There were 13 randomized controlled trials identified that compared midurethral slings to other midurethral slings or traditional surgery. (8-20) (Table 1) Three of the randomized controlled trials (15;17;20) have had subsequent updated articles of longer term results. (21-23) The results of the randomized controlled trials have been stratified into 2 groups: TVT versus colposuspension and comparisons of midurethral slings. No randomized controlled trials were identified that compared a midurethral sling other than TVT to colposuspension.
Summary of Findings
Effectiveness
At this time, there does not appear to be one procedure that is more effective than another at curing stress urinary incontinence. TVT appears to have similar cure rates to open colposuspension; and the various midurethral sling types seem to have similar cure rates.
Procedure Time and Length of Hospital Stay
The procedure time and the length of hospital stay for TVT are significantly shorter than the procedure time and length of stay for colposuspension.
The procedure time and length of hospital stay for all midurethral slings appears to be similar.
Complications
The most frequently reported complications were bladder perforations, de novo voiding difficulties and device problems.
Quality of Life
Quality of life was not consistently reported in all of the randomized controlled trials. In the studies that reported quality of life there does not appear to be a significant difference in quality of life scores between the sling procedures.
PMCID: PMC3379163  PMID: 23074494
25.  Real Money: Complications and Hospital Costs in Trauma Patients 
Surgery  2008;144(2):307-316.
Background
Major postoperative complications are associated with a substantial increase in hospital costs. Trauma patients are known to have a higher rate of complications than the general surgery population. We sought to utilize the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) methodology to evaluate hospital costs, length of stay, and payment associated with complications in trauma patients.
Study Design
Using NSQIP principles, patient data were collected on 512 adult patients admitted to the trauma service for > 24 hours at a Level 1 trauma center (2004–2005). Patients were placed in one of three groups: no complications (none), ≥ 1 minor complication (minor, e.g., urinary tract infection), or ≥ 1 major complication (major, e.g., pneumonia). Total hospital charges, costs, payment, and length of stay associated with each complication group were determined from a cost accounting database. Multiple regression was used to determine the costs of each type of complication after adjusting for differences in age, gender, new injury severity score (nISS), Glasgow coma scale score (GCS), maximum head abbreviated injury scale (AIS), and first emergency department systolic blood pressure.
Results
330 (64%) patients had no complications, 53 (10%) had ≥ 1 minor complication, and 129 (25%) had ≥ 1 major complication. Median hospital charges increased from $33,833 (none) to $81,936 (minor) and $150,885 (major). The mean contribution to margin per day was similar for the no complication and minor complication groups ($994 vs $1,115, p=0.7). Despite higher costs, the patients in the major complication group generated a higher mean contribution to margin per day when compared to the no complication group ($2,168, p<0.001). The attributable increase in median total hospital costs when adjusted for confounding variables was $19,915 for the minor complication group (p<0.001), and $40,555 for the major complication group (p<0.001).
Conclusion
Understanding the costs associated with traumatic injury provides a window for assessing the potential cost reductions associated with improved quality care. To optimize system benefits, payers and providers should develop integrated reimbursement methodologies which align incentives to provide quality care.
doi:10.1016/j.surg.2008.05.003
PMCID: PMC2583342  PMID: 18656640

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