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Differential effect of Charlson index and its components on in-hospital mortality and health costs
Title of the conference
81. Jahrestagung der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Allgemeine Innere Medizin
Basel, Schweiz, 29-31 Mai, 2013
Introduction: The Charlson index (Charlson, 1987) is a commonly used comorbidity index in outcome studies. Still, the use of different weights makes its calculation cumbersome, while the sum of its components (comorbidities) is easier to compute. In this study, we assessed the effects of 1) the Charlson index adapted for the Swiss population and 2) the sum of its components (number of comorbidities, maximum 15) on a) in-hospital deaths and b) cost of hospitalization. Methods: Anonymous data was obtained from the administrative database of the department of internal medicine of the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). All hospitalizations of adult (>=18 years) patients occurring between 2003 and 2011 were included. For each hospitalization, the Charlson index and the number of comorbidities were calculated. Analyses were conducted using Stata. Results: Data from 32,741 hospitalizations occurring between 2003 and 2011 was analyzed. On bivariate analysis, both the Charlson index and the number of comorbidities were significantly and positively associated with in hospital death. Conversely, multivariate adjustment for age, gender and calendar year using Cox regression showed that the association was no longer significant for the number of comorbidities (table). On bivariate analysis, hospitalization costs increased both with Charlson index and with number of comorbidities, but the increase was much steeper for the number of comorbidities (figure). Robust regression after adjusting for age, gender, calendar year and duration of hospital stay showed that the increase in one comorbidity led to an average increase in hospital costs of 321 CHF (95% CI: 272 to 370), while the increase in one score point of the Charlson index led to a decrease in hospital costs of 49 CHF (95% CI: 31 to 67). Conclusion: Charlson index is better than the number of comorbidities in predicting in-hospital death. Conversely, the number of comorbidities significantly increases hospital costs.
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