Cost Implications of Oral Contrast Administration in the Emergency Department: A Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing Analysis.
J Am Coll Radiol. 2019 Jan;16(1):30-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2018.07.021. Epub 2018 Aug 26.
Shankar PR1, Parikh KR2, Heilbrun ME3, Sweeney BM4, Flake AN4, Herbstman EA4, Hoffman TJ4, Havey R5, Kronick S5, Davenport MS2.
PURPOSE: To quantify the monetary and time costs associated with oral contrast administration in the emergency department (ED) for patients with nontraumatic abdominal pain and to evaluate the cost savings associated with an institutional policy change in the criteria for oral contrast administration.
METHODS: A HIPAA-complaint, institutional review board-approved time-driven activity-based costing analysis was performed using both prospective time studies and retrospective data obtained from a quaternary care center. Retrospective data spanned a 1-year period (January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016). A process map was generated. Examination volume-related data, labor costs, and material costs were determined and applied to a base-case model. Univariate and multivariate sensitivity analyses were conducted. Multivariate analysis was used to estimate the cost savings associated with a policy change eliminating oral contrast for patients with body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m2, no prior abdominal surgery within 30 days preceding CT, and no inflammatory bowel disease.
RESULTS: The baseline oral contrast utilization rate was 86% (4,541 of 5,263). The annual base-case cost estimate for oral contrast administration was $82,552. In multivariate analyses, this ranged from $13,685 to $315,393. The model was most sensitive to the volume of CTs requiring oral contrast. Applying parameters from the new policy change reduced the annual cost by 52% (cost saving: $35,836.57). Impact of oral contrast on time to discharge was highly variable and dependent on the contrast agent utilized.
CONCLUSION: Costs associated with oral contrast in the ED are modest and should be balanced with its potential diagnostic benefits. Our criteria reduced oral contrast utilization by 52%.