Home chemotherapy for cancer patients:cost analysis and safety
Lowenthal, RM and Piaszczyk, A and O'Malley, S and Arthur, GE, Home chemotherapy for cancer patients:cost analysis and safety, Medical Journal of Australia, 165, (4) pp. 184-187. ISSN 0025-729X (1996) [Refereed Article]
Objective: To assess the safety and to analyse the cost-effectiveness of home treatment, including cytotoxic chemotherapy, for cancer patients. Design: A restrospective overview of a home oncology nursing service over its first five years (1989-1994), and a detailed cost analysis over 12 months, firstly, by comparing direct costs of chemotherapy administration at home or in the hospital's day treatment ward and, secondly, by assessing the marginal cost of treating home care program patients in the hospital versus the total cost of the home care program. Patients and setting: Patients of the Haematology/Oncology Unit of a metropolitan teaching hospital treated either at home by an experienced oncology nurse, or in the hospital day care ward. Intervention: Patients were offered treatments, including chemotherapy, at home rather than in hospital. Main outcome measures: Safety, assessed by the rate of major complications (i.e., requiring any patient to be admitted to hospital), and cost-effectiveness, assessed by comparing expenditure in the home and hospital settings. Results: Over five years, there were 5444 home visits to 424 patients, including 1688 chemotherapy administrations to 179 patients. Only two of the 424 patients decided against continuing in the home program once it had begun. There were no major complications. The average cost of home chemotherapy administration (excluding drugs) was $49.91, compared with $116.00 in hospital. The cost of treating patients at home was $5.09 per patient more than the 'marginal cost' of treating these patients in the hospital. Conclusions: Home anticancer chemotherapy is a safe and economically realistic alternative to traditional in-hospital treatment. Efforts should be made to overcome budgetary and administrative barriers to more widespread adoption of this model of care.