Hospital Phlebotomy Costs Reduced by Raising Awareness

Making health care providers aware of phlebotomy hospital costs for 11 weeks saved $54,967

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Continuously generating awareness among health care providers of the hospital costs of daily phlebotomy can reduce the amount of phlebotomy ordered for nonintensive care surgical patients and can result in significant savings for the hospital, according to a study published in the May issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Elizabeth A. Stuebing, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Miami, and Thomas J. Miner, M.D., Ph.D., from Brown University in Providence, R.I., investigated whether simply making health care providers continually aware of the hospital costs of daily phlebotomy would decrease the amount of phlebotomy ordered for nonintensive care surgical patients. In three general surgical services, a weekly announcement was made for 11 weeks for all surgical house staff and attending physicians regarding the dollar amount charged to nonintensive care unit surgical patients for laboratory services during the previous week. Dollars charged per patient per day for routine blood work was the main outcome measured.

The investigators found that the daily charges for phlebotomy were $147.73 per patient at baseline. The daily charges for phlebotomy decreased significantly, to as low as $108.11 per patient per day after 11 weeks, with a correlation coefficient of −0.76. A total of $54,967 was saved over the 11 weeks of intervention.

"Practice patterns, specifically phlebotomy ordering, can be significantly reduced by providers knowing the economic cost of medical decision making. Perhaps making the cost of procedures or tests more immediately available to those ordering them would result in more judicious ordering," the authors write.

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