Annual Costs of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in New Zealand

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has been regarded as part of the normal aging process in men and little attention has been focused on the cost of the disease in New Zealand. The purpose of this study was to estimate the direct and indirect costs of treating BPH in both the public and the private sectors in New Zealand. The costs of treatment were estimated from public and private hospital data on admissions for BPH, obtained from the New Zealand Department of Health, medical insurance reimbursement schedules, hospital ward costs at one centre, and urology and general practitioner consultation fees. The length of time spent off work, as a measure of indirect costs, during urological investigations or treatment was estimated from interviews with urologists.

The annual 1991 total direct medical costs of treated BPH as primary diagnosis in New Zealand were estimated at $NZ16 million (the average of the end-month mid-point exchange rate for the first quarter of 1992 was $US0.5457 per $NZ1), and the costs of lost production plus loss of leisure time by patients was estimated at $NZ4 million (1992 dollars). Patients with a principal diagnosis of BPH stayed on average 8.9 days in a public hospital and 4.6 days in a private hospital. Based on the above costs, if the average length of stay of public hospital patients could be reduced to that of private hospital patients, then hospital ward costs for BPH could fall by 37% and the total direct medical costs by 21%.

The most commonly performed surgical operation for BPH was transurethral prostatectomy (TURP). For operations performed in a public hospital, patients stayed on average 8.5 days, while patients whose operations were performed in private hospitals stayed 4.3 days. The mean age of these public hospital patients was 71 years compared with 67 years for those in private hospitals.

A complication rate of 2.02% was recorded for TURP in public hospitals but audits (conducted by the researchers) in both public and private settings indicated that the complication rate was substantially under-recorded.

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