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OBJECTIVES - Extraesophageal symptoms are common manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Lack of a definitive diagnostic or treatment standards complicate management, which often leads to multiple specialty consultations, procedures, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests. The aim of this study was to determine the economic burden associated with extraesophageal reflux (EER).
METHODS - Direct costs of evaluation were estimated for patients referred with symptoms attributed to EER between 2007 and 2011. Medicare payment for evaluation and management and pharmaceutical prices was used to calculate first year and overall costs of evaluating and treating extraesophageal symptoms attributed to reflux.
RESULTS - Overall, 281 patients were studied (cough (50%), hoarseness (23%), globus/post-nasal drainage (15%), asthma (9%), and sore throat (3%)). Over a median (interquartile range) of 32 (16-46) months follow-up, patients had a mean (95% confidence interval) of 10.1 (9.4-10.9) consultations with specialists and underwent 6.4 (3-9) diagnostic procedures. Overall, the mean initial year direct cost was $5,438 per patient being evaluated for EER. Medical and non-medical components contributed $5,154 and $283. Of the overall cost, 52% were attributable to the use of proton pump inhibitors. During the initial year, direct costs were 5.6 times higher than those reported for typical GERD ($971). A total of 54% of patients reported improvement of symptoms. Overall cost per improved patient was $13,700.
CONCLUSIONS - EER contributes substantially to health-care expenditures. In this cohort, the cost for initial year's evaluation and treatment of EER symptoms was quintuple that of typical GERD. Prescription costs and, in particular, proton pump inhibitors were the single greatest contributor to the cost of EER management.
Severe illness caused by viridans streptococci rarely occurs in immunocompetent hosts. Between December 1990 and May 1991, thousands of patients in the YangZi River Delta area of Jiangsu Province, China, suffered from scarlet fever-like pharyngitis. Fewer cases occurred in subsequent years with the same seasonality. Approximately half of the cases developed complications characteristic of streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS). Throat cultures yielded predominant growth of alpha-hemolytic streptococci. All cases admitted to Haian People's Hospital were investigated. Clinical specimens were collected, medical records were reviewed, and bacterial isolates were identified phenotypically and analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Proteins were purified from culture supernatants by extraction, ammonium sulfate precipitation, and fast-protein liquid chromatography. Biological activities of protein components were determined by subcutaneous inoculation into rabbits. A total of 178 cases of non-beta-hemolytic streptococcal scarlet fever-like pharyngitis were studied. In 88 (79.3%) of 111 patients, oropharyngeal swab cultures grew morphologically identical alpha-hemolytic streptococci. A protein in culture supernatants was pyrogenic in rabbits, was mitogenic for splenocytes, and enhanced rabbit susceptibility to endotoxin challenge. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of this 34-kDa protein showed no homology with known Streptococcus pyrogenic exotoxins. The organism was identified as Streptococcus mitis based on biochemical and 16S rRNA sequence analyses. Representative outbreak isolates from 1990 to 1995 displayed identical PFGE patterns. This TSLS outbreak in southeastern China was caused by a toxigenic clone of S. mitis. An apparently novel toxin may explain the unusual virulence of this organism.
A survey of antibiotic prescribing by nurses in primary care clinics was carried out in Harare, Zimbabwe. Of 1000 patients surveyed 543 were treated with antibiotics. Respiratory and soft tissue infections were the commonest reasons for prescribing an antibiotic. Procaine penicillin was the commonest antibiotic used. Because of the design of the survey audit of antibiotic use was difficult but antibiotic use was deemed inappropriate in 12.3% of patients. Viral upper respiratory tract infections accounted for the largest single source of error. The large (23.1%) assessor disagreement illustrates the difficulties encountered when applying accepted guidelines for antibiotic use to developing countries. The disagreements were consistent and highlight areas for local research and debate. The overall standard of antibiotic prescribing by ancillary medical staff is good. Clearly outlined policies, continuing education and permanent staff contribute to this.