Switching patients from IV to oral medication could save money

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Intravenous news: Infection Control Today report “Switching hospitalized patients able to take medication by mouth from intravenous to pill forms of the same drugs could safely save millions of dollars a year, new Johns Hopkins research suggests. In a review of computerized records for the year 2010, conducted at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the researchers estimated savings of more than $1.1 million in the Department of Medicine alone not including surgical patients by swapping out four commonly prescribed IV medications with their oral equivalents. A report on the study is published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics.

Our study looked at just four drugs administered by one department in one hospital in one year and found more than a million dollars in potential savings, says Brandyn D. Lau, a medical informatics specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the studys leader. “Imagine if every hospital took a hard look at substituting oral medications for IV ones whenever possible. We’re talking about an enormous financial impact, with no risk to patients.”

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, roughly 12 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures in 2009 – $293.2 billion were for medications and nondurable medical products.

Lau says a large-scale switch to oral medications has the potential to not only decrease costs, but also to reduce the need for puncturing veins to insert intravenous tubes or medications directly, procedures that carry a higher risk of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections, and longer hospital stays. Simple reminders to physicians that their patients may be eligible to switch medication types could yield large savings, the researchers say.”

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