(HealthDay News) — An interdisciplinary approach to pediatric aerodigestive disorders can reduce health care costs and exposure to anesthesia, according to research published online December 4 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Joseph M. Collaco, MD, MPH, from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a retrospective medical record review of 125 pediatric patients (median age, 1.51 years) to examine whether an interdisciplinary approach to pediatric aerodigestive disorders reduces health care costs and burden. Patients were seen at the Pediatric Aerodigestive Center (PAC) between June 2010 and August 2013 in 163 outpatient clinical encounters.

The researchers found that each patient received a mean of 2.9 out of a potential of four services during the initial visit. The average cost savings per family per PAC visit was $182, estimating the per-encounter visit costs for gas, parking, and facility fees. Sixty-eight percent of patients were recommended for evaluation under anesthesia, resulting in 267 operative procedures performed during 158 encounters with general anesthesia. There was a 41% reduction in episodes of anesthesia (109 episodes avoided), reducing the risks of anesthesia and related care costs ($1,985 per episode averted).

“Coordination of interdisciplinary care in the PAC resulted in a reduction of hospital charges realized through reduction in clinic- and anesthesia-related visits,” the authors write.

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