Cost Analysis of the STONE Randomized Trial: Can Health Care Costs be Reduced One Test at a Time?

Joy Melnikow, Guibo Xing, Ginger Cox, J Paul Leigh, Lisa D Mills, Diana L Miglioretti, Michelle Moghadassi, Rebecca Smith-Bindman

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:: Decreasing the use of high-cost tests may reduce health care costs. OBJECTIVE:: To compare costs of care for patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with suspected kidney stones randomized to 1 of 3 initial imaging tests. RESEARCH DESIGN:: Patients were randomized to point-of-care ultrasound (POC US, least costly), radiology ultrasound (RAD US), or computed tomography (CT, most costly). Subsequent testing and treatment were the choice of the treating physician. SUBJECTS:: A total of 2759 patients at 15 EDs were randomized to POC US (n=908), RAD US, (n=893), or CT (n=958). Mean age was 40.4 years; 51.8% were male. MEASURES:: All medical care documented in the trial database in the 7 days following enrollment was abstracted and coded to estimate costs using national average 2012 Medicare reimbursements. Costs for initial ED care and total 7-day costs were compared using nonparametric bootstrap to account for clustering of patients within medical centers. RESULTS:: Initial ED visit costs were modestly lower for patients assigned to RAD US: $423 ($411, $434) compared with patients assigned to CT: $448 ($438, $459) (P

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical Care
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 12 2016

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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