Resource utilization for ovarian cancer patients at the end of life: How much is too much?

Sharyn N. Lewin, Barbara M. Buttin, Matthew A. Powell, Randall K. Gibb, Janet S. Rader, David G. Mutch, Thomas J. Herzog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective. End-of-life (EOL) medical care consumes 10-12% of national health care expenditures and 27% of Medicare dollars annually. Studies suggest that hospice services decrease EOL expenditures by 25-40%. The goal of this study was to compare the total cost of hospital-based resources utilized in ovarian cancer patients during their last 60 days of life for those enrolled in hospice versus those not on hospice. Methods. Study eligibility included patients who expired from ovarian cancer from 1999 to 2003. Medical records were reviewed for demographic data as well as treatment, response and recurrence rates, histologic type, grade and stage. Billing records were analyzed for costs of inpatient and outpatients visits, including radiologic, laboratory and pharmacy charges. Total cost of hospital resources was compared between patients managed on hospice for >10 days (hospice group) versus <10 days (non-hospice group) using the following methods: Mann-Whitney U, Kruskal-Wallis and Student's t tests. Overall survival was compared using Kaplan-Meier statistics. Results. Of the 84 patients analyzed, 67 (79.8%) were in the non-hospice group and 17 (20.2%) were in the hospice group. Demographic, histologic and staging characteristics as well as platinum sensitivity were similar between the two groups before the last 60 days of life. Mean number of chemotherapy cycles before the study period was also similar (20.4 and 21.0, respectively). However, during the study period, the mean total cost per patient in the non-hospice group was $59,319 versus $15,164 in the hospice group (P = 0.0001). A significant difference in cost was noted for mean inpatient days ($6584 vs. $1629, P = 0.0007), radiology ($6063 vs. $2343, P = 0.003), laboratory ($12,281 vs. $2026, P = 0.0004) and pharmacy charges ($13,650 vs. $4465, P = 0.0017) as well as for treating physician per patient ($112,707 vs. $34,677, P = 0.04). Overall survival for the two groups was the same. Conclusions. Our findings demonstrate that there is a significant cost difference with no appreciable improvement in survival between ovarian cancer patients treated aggressively versus those enrolled in hospice at the EOL. These data suggest that earlier hospice enrollment is beneficial. Furthermore, cost variations between physicians and patients imply that education may be an important variable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005


  • Costs
  • End of life
  • Hospice care
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Resource utilization


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