Making a Genetic Diagnosis in a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Population: Who, When, How, and at What Cost?


Division of Pulmonary Biology, Perinatal Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH; Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : To investigate the prevalence of genetic disease and its economic impact in a level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by identifying and describing diseases diagnosed, genetic testing methodologies used, timing of diagnosis, length of NICU stay, and charges for NICU care.
METHODS : A retrospective chart review of patients admitted to a level IV NICU from 2013 to 2014 (n = 1327) was undertaken and data collected up to 2 years of age from the electronic medical record.
RESULTS : In total, 117 patients (9%) received 120 genetic diagnoses using a variety of methodologies. A significant minority of diagnoses, 36%, were made after NICU discharge and 41% were made after 28 days of age. Patients receiving a genetic diagnosis had significantly longer mean lengths of stay (46 days vs 29.1 days; P < .01) and costlier mean charges ($598 712 vs $352 102; P < .01) for their NICU care. The NICU stay charge difference to care for a newborn with a genetic condition was on average $246 610 in excess of that for a patient without a genetic diagnosis, resulting in more than $28 000 000 in excess charges to care for all patients with genetic conditions in a single NICU over a 2-year period.
CONCLUSIONS : Given the high prevalence of genetic disease in this population and the documented higher cost of care, shortening the time to diagnosis and targeting therapeutic interventions for this population could make a significant impact on neonatal care in level IV NICUs.


genetic testing,healthcare cost,infants,

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