Objective: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in managing prehospital acute pulmonary edema in an urban EMS system.
Methods: Using estimates from published reports on prehospital and emergency department CPAP, a cost-effectiveness model of implementing CPAP in a typical urban EMS system was derived from the societal perspective as well as the perspective of the implementing EMS system. To assess the robustness of the model, a series of univariate and multivariate sensitivity analyses was performed on the input variables.
Results: The cost of consumables, equipment, and training yielded a total cost of $89 per CPAP application. The theoretical system would be expected to use CPAP 4 times per 1000 EMS patients and is expected to save 0.75 additional lives per 1000 EMS patients at a cost of $490 per life saved. CPAP is also expected to result in approximately one less intubation per 6 CPAP applications and reduce hospitalization costs by $4075 per year for each CPAP application. Through sensitivity analyses the model was verified to be robust across a wide range of input variable assumptions.
Conclusion: Previous studies have demonstrated the clinical effectiveness of CPAP in the management of acute pulmonary edema. Through a theoretical analysis which modeled the costs and clinical benefits of implementing CPAP in an urban EMS system, prehospital CPAP appears to be a cost-effective treatment.