Safety and cost benefit of an ambulatory program for patients with low-risk neutropenic fever at an Australian centre

Teh BWBrown CJoyce TWorth LJSlavin MAThursky KA.


BACKGROUND: Neutropenic fever (NF) is a common complication of cancer chemotherapy. Patients at low risk of medical complications from NF can be identified using a validated risk assessment and managed in an outpatient setting. This is a new model of care for Australia. This study described the implementation of a sustainable ambulatory program for NF at a tertiary cancer centre over a 12-month period.

METHODS: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre introduced an ambulatory care program in 2014, which identified low-risk NF patients, promoted early de-escalation to oral antibiotics, and early discharge to a nurse-led ambulatory program. Patients prospectively enrolled in the ambulatory program were compared with a historical-matched cohort of patients from 2011 for analysis. Patient demographics, clinical variables (cancer type, recent chemotherapy, treatment intent, site of presentation) and outcomes were collected and compared. Total cost of inpatient admissions was determined from diagnosis-related group (DRG) codes and applied to both the prospective and historical cohorts to allow comparisons.

RESULTS: Twenty-five patients were managed in the first year of this program with a reduction in hospital median length of stay from 4.0 to 1.1 days and admission cost from Australian dollars ($AUD) 8580 to $AUD2360 compared to the historical cohort. Offsetting salary costs, the ambulatory program had a net cost benefit of $AUD 71895. Readmission for fever was infrequent (8.0%), and no deaths were reported.

CONCLUSION: Of relevance to hospitals providing cancer care, feasibility, safety, and cost benefits of an ambulatory program for low-risk NF patients have been demonstrated.

Support Care Cancer. 2017 Oct 10. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3921-3. [Epub ahead of print]