Study objectives: This study was conducted to assess cost savings and clinical outcomes associated with the use of home IV inotropic therapy in patients with advanced (New York Heart Association [NYHA] class IV) heart failure.
Design: Retrospective analysis.
Setting: Tertiary care referral center.
Patients and interventions: Twenty-four patients (13 men, 11 women; age, 61±12 years) with left ventricular ejection fraction <30% and heart failure refractory to oral agents required home IV inotropic therapy for at least 4 consecutive weeks between May 1994 and April 1996. Inotropic agents used included dobutamine (n=20; dose, 5.0±2.2 µg/kg/min) or milrinone (n=7; dose, 0.53±0.05 µg/kg/min).
Measurements and results: Cost of care and clinical outcomes (hospital admissions, length of hospital stay, NYHA functional class) were compared during the period of inotropic therapy (study period) and the immediate preceding period of equal duration (control period). In comparison to the control period, the study period (3.9±2.7 months) was associated with a 16% reduction in cost, amounting to a calculated savings of $5,700 per patient or $1,465 per patient per month. Concomitantly, a decrease in the number of hospital admissions from 2.7±2.6 to 1.3±1.3 (p=0.056) and length of hospital stay from 20.9±12.7 to 5.5±5.4 days (p=0.0004) was observed with improvement in NYHA functional class from 4.0±0.0 to 2.7±0.9 (p<0.0001). Eight patients (38%) died after 2.8±1.7 months of home IV inotropic therapy.
Conclusions: Home IV inotropic therapy reduces hospital admissions, length of stay, and cost of care and improves functional class in patients with advanced (NYHA class IV) heart failure.