Multiple options exist for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in medical inpatients. We sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) relative to unfractionated heparin (UFH) for DVT prevention in this setting. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis from the perspective of a third-party payer employing a decision model and literature-based estimates for inputs. In the base-case analysis, LMWH had little impact on the rate of DVT. Despite higher acquisition costs, however, LMWHs resulted in net savings. Routine use of LMWH saves approximately US$89 per patient. The lower rate of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) with LMWH accounted for this differential. Univariate sensitivity analysis revealed the model was moderately sensitive to the odds ratio of HIT with LMWH and the cost of HIT. Multivariate sensitivity analysis confirmed the LMWH approach dominated financially. 'Worst-case' scenario modeling, where LMWH actually increased the risk for DVT, had little effect on the rate of HIT, and was substantially more costly than UFH, still demonstrated that LMWHs were economically superior. Monte-Carlo simulation indicated the 95% confidence interval around the estimate for savings with LMWH ranged from US$7 to US$373. We conclude that, despite their higher cost, LMWHs for thromboprophylaxis in medical patients result in savings.
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Low-molecular-weight heparin