Henry Brodkin, MD
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Brodkin H.; Economic Analysis of Influenza Vaccination and Treatment. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:607. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-7-200304010-00022
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(7):607.
TO THE EDITOR:
In their investigation of the economics of influenza treatment, Lee and colleagues (1) neglected to examine several associated costs that, when added, change the conclusions of their article. A policy of using anti-influenza drugs will increase the visits of people with any respiratory infection, who will want to know whether they have a treatable condition. These people would previously have used home treatment for what they had correctly concluded was a “cold.” Most of these visits will be made during working hours. Some patients will receive incorrect diagnoses, be made ill by the treatment, and again miss work. All will incur the costs of the visit plus diagnostic testing. Adding the costs of the increase in visits reverses Lee and colleagues' conclusions definitively and highlights the near-uselessness of influenza drugs. The capacity of any physician's office to cope with the increased visits, testing, and side effects associated with Lee and colleagues' approach would certainly diminish that office's ability to care for its seriously ill patients. Compared with these increased costs and workload, the 0.5 workday saved is negligible to irrelevant.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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