Study links postoperative respiratory depression to higher hospital charges

Patients with postoperative respiratory depression could see greater economic consequences compared with patients without the condition, suggests a recent study by CogenDx, the genetics brand of Millennium Health.

For the study, researchers examined billing data on 17,727 patients from the QuintilesIMS Hospital Charge Data Master database.

The study found 4 percent of patients, or 715 out of 17,727, experienced respiratory depression following their inpatient surgery. Additionally, patients with respiratory depression saw significantly higher hospital charges compared to patients without the condition, researchers said. The average hospital charges for patients with respiratory depression were $9,180 higher than similar patients who did not experience respiratory depression.

"Several factors may contribute to the occurrence of postoperative respiratory depression. One factor that hasn't been fully examined is the role of genetics in the observed variations in responses to perioperative medications," Rami Ben-Joseph, PhD, senior vice president of health outcomes research at CogenDx, said in a news release. "Several studies have shown that certain side effects from perioperative drugs may be associated with genetic variation. And as such, pharmacogenetics may be able to help clinicians optimize medication selection and dosing in order to minimize a patient's risk of experiencing respiratory depression."


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