Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
CREAMER, Germán et al. Efficiency of hospital cholera treatment in Ecuador. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.2, pp.77-87. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000200002.
This study analyzed the efficiency of cholera treatment in three hospitals representative of the Ecuadorian public health system in order to provide hospital directors and administrators and health service policy-makers with information to plan responses to future epidemics and to reduce the costs of cholera treatment in general. For the study, total and excess cholera treatment costs were calculated using hospital files and statistics and an in-hospital surveillance system of the cholera cases. The type and quantity of each input used for each treatment were analyzed, as well as the number of days hospitalized, according to the severity of the illness. With this process, excess costs were determined in relation to a "treatment norm" that would have been appropriate for each patient. The researchers found that 45% of the cholera treatment costs were excessive. The most important contributor was excess recurrent costs (90%), including extended hospital stays, disproportionate use of intravenous rehydration solutions, and unnecessary laboratory tests. Excess capital costs, from land, buildings, and hospital equipment, represented 10% of the total excess treatment costs. No significant relationship was found between treatment costs and the severity of the illness, nor between costs and a patient's age. A patient's sex appeared to be an important variable, with the cost of treating women being notably higher than for men. An inverse relationship was found between treatment costs and the complexity of the hospital. The researchers concluded there was an inefficient use of resources in the treatment of cholera in the three hospitals where the research was performed.