The Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden of Cancer Care—A Systematic Literature Review

Background: Out-of-pocket costs pose a substantial economic burden to cancer patients and their families. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the literature on out-of-pocket costs of cancer care. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted to identify studies that estimated the out-of-pocket cost burden faced by cancer patients and their caregivers. The average monthly out-of-pocket costs per patient were reported/estimated and converted to 2018 USD. Costs were reported as medical and non-medical costs and were reported across countries or country income levels by cancer site, where possible, and category. The out-of-pocket burden was estimated as the average proportion of income spent as non-reimbursable costs. Results: Among all cancers, adult patients and caregivers in the U.S. spent between USD 180 and USD 2600 per month, compared to USD 15–400 in Canada, USD 4–609 in Western Europe, and USD 58–438 in Australia. Patients with breast or colorectal cancer spent around USD 200 per month, while pediatric cancer patients spent USD 800. Patients spent USD 288 per month on cancer medications in the U.S. and USD 40 in other high-income countries (HICs). The average costs for medical consultations and in-hospital care were estimated between USD 40–71 in HICs. Cancer patients and caregivers spent 42% and 16% of their annual income on out-of-pocket expenses in low- and middle-income countries and HICs, respectively. Conclusions: We found evidence that cancer is associated with high out-of-pocket costs. Healthcare systems have an opportunity to improve the coverage of medical and non-medical costs for cancer patients to help alleviate this burden and ensure equitable access to car

Silver linings: a qualitative study of desirable changes to cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Introduction: Public health emergencies and crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate innovation and place renewed focus on the value of health interventions. Capturing important lessons learnt, both positive and negative, is vital. We aimed to document the perceived positive changes (silver linings) in cancer care that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and identify challenges that may limit their long-term adoption.

Methods: This study employed a qualitative design. Semi-structured interviews (n = 20) were conducted with key opinion leaders from 14 countries. The participants were predominantly members of the International COVID-19 and Cancer Taskforce, who convened in March 2020 to address delivery of cancer care in the context of the pandemic. The Framework Method was employed to analyse the positive changes of the pandemic with corresponding challenges to their maintenance post-pandemic.

Results: Ten themes of positive changes were identified which included: value in cancer care, digital communication, convenience, inclusivity and cooperation, decentralisation of cancer care, acceleration of policy change, human interactions, hygiene practices, health awareness and promotion and systems improvement. Impediments to the scale-up of these positive changes included resource disparities and variation in legal frameworks across regions. Barriers were largely attributed to behaviours and attitudes of stakeholders.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to important value-based innovations and changes for better cancer care across different health systems. The challenges to maintaining/implementing these changes vary by setting. Efforts are needed to implement improved elements of care that evolved during the pandemic.

Management of major obstetric hemorrhage prior to peripartum hysterectomy and outcomes across nine European countries

Peripartum hysterectomy is applied as a surgical intervention of last resort for major obstetric hemorrhage. It is performed in an emergency setting except for women with a strong suspicion of placenta accreta spectrum (PAS), where it may be anticipated before cesarean section. The aim of this study was to compare management strategies in the case of obstetric hemorrhage leading to hysterectomy, between nine European countries participating in the International Network of Obstetric Survey Systems (INOSS), and to describe pooled maternal and neonatal outcomes following peripartum hysterectomy.

Material and methods
We merged data from nine nationwide or multi‐regional obstetric surveillance studies performed in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK collected between 2004 and 2016. Hysterectomies performed from 22 gestational weeks up to 48 h postpartum due to obstetric hemorrhage were included. Stratifying women with and without PAS, procedures performed in the management of obstetric hemorrhage prior to hysterectomy between countries were counted and compared. Prevalence of maternal mortality, complications after hysterectomy and neonatal adverse events (stillbirth or neonatal mortality) were calculated.

A total of 1302 women with peripartum hysterectomy were included. In women without PAS who had major obstetric hemorrhage leading to hysterectomy, uterotonics administration was lowest in Slovakia (48/73, 66%) and highest in Denmark (25/27, 93%), intrauterine balloon use was lowest in Slovakia (1/72, 1%) and highest in Denmark (11/27, 41%), and interventional radiology varied between 0/27 in Denmark and Slovakia to 11/59 (79%) in Belgium. In women with PAS, uterotonics administration was lowest in Finland (5/16, 31%) and highest in the UK (84/103, 82%), intrauterine balloon use varied between 0/14 in Belgium and Slovakia to 29/103 (28%) in the UK. Interventional radiology was lowest in Denmark (0/16) and highest in Finland (9/15, 60%). Maternal mortality occurred in 14/1226 (1%), the most common complications were hematologic (95/1202, 8%) and respiratory (81/1101, 7%). Adverse neonatal events were observed in 79/1259 (6%) births.

Management of obstetric hemorrhage in women who eventually underwent peripartum hysterectomy varied greatly between these nine European countries. This potentially life‐saving procedure is associated with substantial adverse maternal and neonatal outcome.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of tranexamic acid for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, based on the results of the CRASH-3 randomised trial: a decision modelling approach

Introduction An estimated 69 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur each year worldwide, with most in low-income and middle-income countries. The CRASH-3 randomised trial found that intravenous administration of tranexamic acid within 3 hours of injury reduces head injury deaths in patients sustaining a mild or moderate TBI. We examined the cost-effectiveness of tranexamic acid treatment for TBI.

Methods A Markov decision model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of treatment with and without tranexamic acid, in addition to current practice. We modelled the decision in the UK and Pakistan from a health service perspective, over a lifetime time horizon. We used data from the CRASH-3 trial for the risk of death during the trial period (28 days) and patient quality of life, and data from the literature to estimate costs and long-term outcomes post-TBI. We present outcomes as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and 2018 costs in pounds for the UK, and US dollars for Pakistan. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) per QALY gained were estimated, and compared with country specific cost-effective thresholds. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were also performed.

Results Tranexamic acid was highly cost-effective for patients with mild TBI and intracranial bleeding or patients with moderate TBI, at £4288 per QALY in the UK, and US$24 per QALY in Pakistan. Tranexamic acid was 99% and 98% cost-effective at the cost-effectiveness thresholds for the UK and Pakistan, respectively, and remained cost-effective across all deterministic sensitivity analyses. Tranexamic acid was even more cost-effective with earlier treatment administration. The cost-effectiveness for those with severe TBI was uncertain.

Conclusion Early administration of tranexamic acid is highly cost-effective for patients with mild or moderate TBI in the UK and Pakistan, relative to the cost-effectiveness thresholds used. The estimated ICERs suggest treatment is likely to be cost-effective across all income settings globally.

Trauma Transformed: A Positive Review of Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Charles Moore in The Telegraph recently described the NHS as ‘lumbering’.1 Far from this description, it has been our experience that the NHS has rapidly transformed across specialties in order to respond to the unprecedented global crisis of COVID-19. We describe here the multiple ways in which the plastic surgery trauma service at Salisbury District Hospital swiftly adapted over a two-week period in March 2020. Our aim is to deliver a tailored trauma service whilst adhering to the same high standards of patient care established prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our view that many of these changes will be positive enduring practices for the future.

Similarities and Differences in Specialty Training of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics (India), Operative Dentistry (Pakistan) and Restorative Dentistry-Endodontics (United Kingdom)

Dental education and training in Pakistan and India are largely influenced by the British system of education. However, there are some differences in the mode of postgraduate training in these countries. In Pakistan, hospital-based residency training is the mainstay, culminating in a fellowship diploma awarded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan. Whereas, in Indian students of dentistry pursue university-based MDS programme as the primary pathway to specialist training. From the beginning the Indian dental academia has remained vigilant in adopting a correct nomenclature for the specialty concerned with the dental conservation. They named it Conservative Dentistry & Endodontics while in Pakistan the same specialty termed Operative Dentistry has become an obsolete term and does not represent the scope of work practiced by specialists in this discipline. A simple addition of the term “Endodontics” to the present nomenclature of “Operative Dentistry” will resolve the matter of a missing identity in a clinical specialty in Pakistan. The present paper suggests the need for advocacy to change the term used for this particular dental specialty.

Management and outcomes following emergency surgery for traumatic brain injury – A multi-centre, international, prospective cohort study (the Global Neurotrauma Outcomes Study).

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for a significant amount of death and disability worldwide and the majority of this burden affects individuals in low-and-middle income countries. Despite this, considerable geographical differences have been reported in the care of TBI patients. On this background, we aim to provide a comprehensive international picture of the epidemiological characteristics, management and outcomes of patients undergoing emergency surgery for traumatic brain injury (TBI) worldwide. The Global Neurotrauma Outcomes Study (GNOS) is a multi-centre, international, prospective observational cohort study. Any unit performing emergency surgery for TBI worldwide will be eligible to participate. All TBI patients who receive emergency surgery in any given consecutive 30-day period beginning between 1st of November 2018 and 31st of December 2019 in a given participating unit will be included. Data will be collected via a secure online platform in anonymised form. The primary outcome measures for the study will be 14-day mortality (or survival to hospital discharge, whichever comes first). Final day of data collection for the primary outcome measure is February 13th. Secondary outcome measures include return to theatre and surgical site infection. This project will not affect clinical practice and has been classified as clinical audit following research ethics review. Access to source data will be made available to collaborators through national or international anonymised datasets on request and after review of the scientific validity of the proposed analysis by the central study team.

Costs and outcomes in evaluating management of unhealed surgical wounds in the community in clinical practice in the UK: a cohort study.

To evaluate the patient pathways and associated health outcomes, resource use and corresponding costs attributable to managing unhealed surgical wounds in clinical practice, from initial presentation in the community in the UK.

This was a retrospective cohort analysis of the records of 707 patients in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database whose wound failed to heal within 4 weeks of their surgery. Patients’ characteristics, wound-related health outcomes and healthcare resource use were quantified, and the total National Health Service (NHS) cost of patient management was estimated at 2015/2016 prices.

Inconsistent terminology was used in describing the wounds. 83% of all wounds healed within 12 months from onset of community management, ranging from 86% to 74% of wounds arising from planned and emergency procedures, respectively. Mean time to healing was 4 months per patient. Patients were predominantly managed in the community by nurses and only around a half of all patients who still had a wound at 3 months were recorded as having had a follow-up visit with their surgeon. Up to 68% of all wounds may have been clinically infected at the time of presentation, and 23% of patients subsequently developed a putative wound infection a mean 4 months after initial presentation. Mean NHS cost of wound care over 12 months was £7300 per wound, ranging from £6000 to £13 700 per healed and unhealed wound, respectively. Additionally, the mean NHS cost of managing a wound without any evidence of infection was ~£2000 and the conflated cost of managing a wound with a putative infection ranged from £5000 to £11 200.

Surgeons are unlikely to be fully aware of the problems surrounding unhealed surgical wounds once patients are discharged into the community, due to inconsistent recording in patients’ records coupled with the low rate of follow-up appointments. These findings offer the best evidence available with which to inform policy and budgetary decisions pertaining to managing unhealed surgical wounds in the community.

Fellowship exit examination in orthopaedic surgery in the commonwealth countries of Australia, UK, South Africa and Canada. Are they comparable and equivalent? A perspective on the requirements for medical migration

nternational migration of healthcare professionals has increased substantially in recent decades. In order to practice medicine in the recipient country, International Medical Graduates (IMG) are required to fulfil the requirements of their new countries medical registration authorities. The purpose of this project was to compare the final fellowship exit examination in Orthopaedic Surgery for the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa. The curriculum of the Australian Orthopaedic Association (SET) was selected as a baseline reference. The competencies and technical modules specified in the training syllabus, as well as the specifics of the final fellowship examination as outlined in SET, were then compared between countries. Of the nine competencies outlined in SET, the curricula of the UK, South Africa and Canada were all compatible with the Australian syllabus, and covered 97.7%, 86% and 93%, respectively, of all competencies and sub-items. The final fellowship examinations of Australia, South Africa and the UK were all highly similar in format and content. The examination in Canada was substantially different, and had two written sessions but combined the oral and clinical component into a structured OSCE using standardized patients and the component included unmanned stations. There were no significant differences for completion certificate of training and/or board certification observed between these countries. The results of this study strongly suggest that core and technical competencies outlined in the training and education curriculum and the final fellowship examination in Orthopaedic Surgery in Australia, South Africa and the UK are compatible. Between country reciprocal recognition of these fellowship examinations should not only be considered by the relevant Colleges, but should also be regulated by the individual countries health practitioner registration boards and governing bodies.

International Study of the Epidemiology of Paediatric Trauma: PAPSA Research Study.

Trauma is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The literature on paediatric trauma epidemiology in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is limited. This study aims to gather epidemiological data on paediatric trauma.

This is a multicentre prospective cohort study of paediatric trauma admissions, over 1 month, from 15 paediatric surgery centres in 11 countries. Epidemiology, mechanism of injury, injuries sustained, management, morbidity and mortality data were recorded. Statistical analysis compared LMICs and high-income countries (HICs).

There were 1377 paediatric trauma admissions over 31 days; 1295 admissions across ten LMIC centres and 84 admissions across five HIC centres. Median number of admissions per centre was 15 in HICs and 43 in LMICs. Mean age was 7 years, and 62% were boys. Common mechanisms included road traffic accidents (41%), falls (41%) and interpersonal violence (11%). Frequent injuries were lacerations, fractures, head injuries and burns. Intra-abdominal and intra-thoracic injuries accounted for 3 and 2% of injuries. The mechanisms and injuries sustained differed significantly between HICs and LMICs. Median length of stay was 1 day and 19% required an operative intervention; this did not differ significantly between HICs and LMICs. No mortality and morbidity was reported from HICs. In LMICs, in-hospital morbidity was 4.0% and mortality was 0.8%.

The spectrum of paediatric trauma varies significantly, with different injury mechanisms and patterns in LMICs. Healthcare structure, access to paediatric surgery and trauma prevention strategies may account for these differences. Trauma registries are needed in LMICs for future research and to inform local policy.