Background: Low-molecular-weight heparins have been shown to be effective and safe in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis. To our knowledge, there have been no direct comparisons of such treatment on an outpatient vs an inpatient basis.
Objective: To conduct a randomized, comparative, multicenter trial to evaluate the clinical outcomes and treatment costs of deep vein thrombosis in the outpatient and inpatient settings.
Methods: Two hundred one patients presenting with proximal deep vein thrombosis, without known risk factors for pulmonary embolism or hemorrhagic complications, were randomized to receive a low-molecular-weight heparin at the registered dose followed by an oral anticoagulant for up to 6 months, either in the hospital for the first 10 days followed by treatment at home (n=102) or at home from the outset (n=99). The primary clinical outcome was the incidence of venous thromboembolism recurrence, pulmonary embolism, or major bleeding. The economic analysis was performed from the point of view of the health insurance company. Total costs of the 2 management strategies were calculated to compare the cost consequences during the first 10 days.
Results: No differences in clinical outcome were detectable between the 2 groups. There was no increase in the rates of primary efficacy outcome in the patients treated at home vs in the hospital (3.0% vs 3.9%), while a cost reduction of 56% was demonstrated for outpatient management.
Conclusion: For patients with proximal deep vein thrombosis and no symptoms of pulmonary embolism or increased risk of major bleeding, home treatment using a low-molecular-weight heparin is an effective, safe, and cost-saving strategy.