The potential economic value of sputum culture use in patients with community-acquired pneumonia and healthcare-associated pneumonia

L. Asti, S. M. Bartsch, C. A. Umscheid, K. Hamilton, I. Nachamkin, B. Y. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Despite numerous studies, the clinical value of sputum cultures in the management of pneumonia remains controversial; therefore, understanding the economic value of sputum cultures may help decision makers determine their appropriate use in patient management. Methods: We developed a decision model to determine the economic and clinical value of using sputum cultures in the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP) from the hospital perspective under various conditions. Results: For both CAP and HCAP patients, obtaining sputum cultures resulted in similar costs compared to no culture, even if cultures cost $0. Given current clinical practices, obtaining cultures cost $539–631 more per CAP patient and $13–170 per HCAP patient compared to no culture use. However, cultures saved $8–202 per HCAP patient with a 40% probability the pathogen was the true cause (75% reduction in adverse outcomes, greater length of hospital stay (LOS) increase) to a 70% probability the pathogen was the true cause (25% reduction in outcomes and greater LOS increase and a 75% reduction in outcomes and all LOS increases). Additionally, obtaining sputum cultures had no impact on the number of adverse outcomes (i.e., adverse drug events, Clostridium difficile infection, pneumonia readmissions, additional hospitalization days). When all patients were treated with antibiotics empirically, obtaining cultures saved $4–342. Conclusions: Overall, obtaining sputum cultures does not provide significant clinical or economic benefits for CAP or HCAP patients; however, it can reduce costs and shorten overall LOS under some circumstances. Clinicians should consider their local conditions when making decisions about sputum culture use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1038.e1-1038.e9
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Volume25
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Community-acquired pneumonia
  • Cost
  • Economics
  • Healthcare-associated pneumonia
  • Sputum culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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