Cost Savings from a Policy to Diagnose and Prevent Transmission of Adenoviral Conjunctivitis in Employees of a Large Academic Medical Center

Irene C. Kuo, Emily W. Gower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Importance: Adenoviral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, can be associated with systemic infections, and can cause chronic visual impairment. It accounts for a large proportion of acute conjunctivitis. Outbreaks of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) are costly in terms of productivity loss from work furloughs and spread to patients and have resulted in clinic and departmental closures. Objective: To examine the institutional cost savings of a policy to diagnose adenoviral conjunctivitis and triage and furlough medical center employees with this condition to prevent outbreaks. Design, Setting, and Participants: This quality improvement study assessed Johns Hopkins Medicine employees with red eye from November 1, 2011, through October 31, 2018, who were triaged at the occupational health clinic whose conditions were diagnosed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) validated for adenoviral conjunctivitis. Interventions: Only employees with positive PCR test results were furloughed, with furlough length tailored to subtype (a minimum of 2 weeks for EKC and 1 week otherwise). Main Outcomes and Measures: Total number of furloughs avoided and cost savings associated with reducing unnecessary furloughs. Results: Of 2142 employees with red eye, 1520 (71.0%) underwent PCR testing; 130 (8.6%) had positive adenoviral PCR test results, of whom 41 (31.5%) had EKC. Furloughing 130 employees with positive PCR test results vs furloughing all 1520 employees clinically suspected of having adenoviral conjunctivitis represented an estimated annual savings of $442073, or $3094511 during 7 years. The cost of performing PCR on employees suspected of having adenoviral conjunctivitis was 5.0% of the cost associated with furloughing all employees with red eye. No outbreaks occurred. Conclusions and Relevance: In this quality improvement study, this policy, notable for development and use of PCR for adenoviral conjunctivitis on a large scale, resulted in substantial cost savings from fewer work furloughs compared with the number of employees who would have been furloughed based on clinical diagnosis. These results may provide impetus for policy adoption by other institutions and for development of a rapid, sensitive, and specific diagnostic test for adenoviral conjunctivitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0150
JournalJAMA ophthalmology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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