Colorectal cancer is the third cause of cancer deaths in the United States for both men and women. Not only is colon cancer a common cancer, a significant proportion of these patients undergo treatment. The treatment is complicated and may involve inpatient and outpatient settings as well as multiple specialists. As a result of the complex care and uncertainty as to who is overseeing their care, patients fall through the cracks and end up in the emergency department (ED) by default.
Researchers from Mayo Clinic using OptumLabs Data Warehouse, a national administrative claims database recently published a study in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. The team, led by senior author Nabil Wasif, M.D., investigated emergency department use in patients with colorectal cancer. They hoped to identify factors associated with ED visits and subsequent admission. Further, they hoped they could determine a subset of high-risk patients for which targeted interventions might reduce ED visits.
They found that over half of privately insured patients undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer visit the ED within 12 months of diagnosis. Within this group, they were able to identify common factors for a high-risk subset of patients with three or more ED visits who account for over half of all ED visits and a third of all admissions among those with colorectal cancer.
Dr. Wasif explains, “These patients could potentially be targeted with alternative management strategies in the outpatient setting.” Identifying and intervening in this high risk group has two main positive outcomes. It decreases cost to the health care system by avoiding preventable ED visits and admissions as well as improving quality of care for the patient.