IPF Patients in Spain Getting Better Care Despite Rising Hospitalization Rates


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Spanish patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) saw their hospital and follow-up care improve from 2004 to 2013, according to a new report.

The study, “Retrospective observational study of trends in hospital admissions for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in Spain (2004–2013) using administrative data,” appeared in the journal BMJ Open. It looked at data from the Spanish National Hospital Database (CMBD, Conjunto Mínimo Básico de Datos) such as patient gender and age, date of hospital admission, date of discharge and procedures administered during hospitalization.

Researchers analyzed the hospital admissions of 22,214 IPF patients regarding incidence, related costs and other disease-related occurrences. They noted that although hospitalizations for IPF jumped from 3.82 admissions per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004 to 6.98 per 100,000 in 2013, better and more accurate diagnostic protocols may have contributed to this increase.

They also found that during the nine-year period, the incidence of secondary diseases associated with IPF also rose, from 15 percent at the beginning of the study to 27 percent by 2013. Along with the fact that IPF cases were more prevalent in elderly patients, this suggests that the higher rate of comorbidities could be because of the patients’ increased overall survival rate as well as advanced age.

Diabetes mellitus was the most common secondary diagnosis reported. This could be due to Spain’s indiscriminate use of corticosteroids for IPF treatment at that time, even though it was known to be an ineffective approach with limited results.

In addition, the average duration of hospitalization fell from 12 days in 2004 to 10 days in 2013, suggesting that management of IPF in Spain has improved. In addition, in-hospital deaths associated with IPF fell from 14.77 percent in 2004 to 13.72 percent in 2013.

At the same time, costs related to hospital stays increased, which researchers attribute to a general increase in the cost of procedures as well as the development of new specific treatments for IPF.

“In conclusion, we provide robust data indicating that, despite increases in the number of hospital admissions due to IPF over time, IHM [in-hospital mortality] and LOHS [length of hospital stay] decreased, albeit with increasing healthcare costs,” the team said. “These results suggest that the management of IPF improved in Spain during the study period. New antifibrotic treatments seem to be a promising option for patients with this devastating disease.”