To quantify intercenter cost variation for perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) treated with therapeutic hypothermia across children’s hospitals.
Prospectively collected data from the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Database and Pediatric Health Information Systems were linked to evaluate intercenter cost variation in total hospitalization costs after adjusting for HIE severity, mortality, length of stay, use of extracorporeal support or nitric oxide, and ventilator days. Secondarily, costs for intensive care unit bed, electroencephalography (EEG), and laboratory and neuroimaging testing were also evaluated. Costs were contextualized by frequency of favorable (survival with normal magnetic resonance imaging) and adverse (death or need for gastric tube feedings at discharge) outcomes to identify centers with relative low costs and favorable outcomes.
Of the 822 infants with HIE treated with therapeutic hypothermia at 19 regional neonatal intensive care units, 704 (86%) survived to discharge. The median cost/case for survivors was $58 552 (IQR $32 476-$130 203) and nonsurvivors $29 760 (IQR $16 897-$61 399). Adjusting for illness severity and select interventions, intercenter differences explained 29% of the variation in total hospitalization costs. The widest cost variability across centers was EEG use, although low cost and favorable outcome centers ranked higher with regards to EEG costs.
There is marked intercenter cost variation associated with treating HIE across regional children’s hospitals. Our investigation may help establish references for cost and enhance quality improvement and resource utilization projects related to HIE.