The safety and efficacy of taking low-molecular-weight heparin at home was previously demonstrated in a clinical trial in which patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis were randomized to receive either intravenous standard heparin in the hospital or subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin administered primarily at home. Treatment in the home has the potential to substantially reduce the cost to the health care system.
To conduct an economic evaluation we prospectively collected data on resource use and health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36) on the 300 patients who formed the trial stratum presenting with proximal vein thrombosis as outpatients, of whom 151 received standard heparin and 149 received low-molecular-weight heparin. The primary viewpoint of the analysis was societal, and costs included health care costs, patient travel costs, and productivity costs as a result of time off work. Costs were assessed over a period of 3 months from randomization. Quality of life was assessed as the change in Short-Form 36 domain scores from baseline to day 7 for each treatment group. All costs are reported in 1997 Canadian dollars.
There were 11 recurrent thromboembolic events and 1 bleed in the 151 patients who received standard heparin; the corresponding data for the 149 patients receiving low-molecular-weight heparin were 10 and 4, respectively. The mean cost per patient who received standard heparin was Can $5323 compared with Can $2278 for low-molecular-weight heparin, a total societal cost savings per patient using low-molecular-weight heparin of Can $3045 (95% confidence interval, Can $2012-$4050). There was no difference in quality of life between the 2 groups except for the domain of social functioning, where a greater improvement from baseline to day 7 was observed for the low-molecular-weight heparin group vs the standard heparin group (P =.005).
For patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis, treatment at home with low-molecular-weight heparin is less costly than hospital-based treatment with standard heparin. The economic evidence in favor of outpatient treatment with low-molecular-weight heparin exhibits dominance; a situation of reduced cost is created with no compromise in clinical outcomes or patients' quality of life.