Aim: To analyze factors associated with the length of stay and pharmaceuticals expense for patients admitted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to evaluate whether treatment by different physicians means greater or less use of hospital resources.
Methods: We retrospectively studied a cohort of 1033 COPD patients admitted to the Hospital de Mataró, Catalonia, Spain, during the years 1996 through 1998 in order to analyze factors associated with length of stay and pharmaceuticals use. We used the Minimum Basic Data Set, laboratory databases, and pharmacy single-dose database. We also analyzed the differences among patients treated by different physicians and developed multiple linear regression models to evaluate differences in treatment between one physician and another.
Results: The length of stay increased with patient age, the number of times admitted, the presence of atrial fibrillation or respiratory insufficiency, ventilatory alterations, chronicity, a forced expiratory volume in 1 second less than 50% of predicted, and treatment by certain physicians. Medication costs showed a similar pattern. Although the characteristics of patients treated by different physicians were quite homogeneous, the median length of stay varied from 9 to 11 days depending on the physician, while the median cost for medication varied from;43.62 to;54.39 (from $41.07 to $51.21). After removing the effects of several covariables by multiple regression analysis, an effect of physician persisted.
Conclusions: Significant differences in length of hospital stay and consumption of pharmaceuticals are related to attending physician and continue to have an important effect after controlling for the differences in the severity of patient status.