Conference Coverage

Fragmentation of sickle cell disease care starts in young adulthood



– While most children with sickle cell disease receive inpatient care at a single center, care starts to become fragmented in young adulthood, with patients admitted to as many as five centers or more over time, results of a retrospective study suggest.

Dr. Anjlee Mahajan, the University of California, Davis Andrew D. Bowser/MDedge News

Dr. Anjlee Mahajan

Nearly 60% of children between aged10-17 years were seen at just one facility over the course of 7 years in the analysis, which was based on analysis of data for nearly 7,000 patients seen in California during 1991-2016.

That contrasted sharply with young adults, aged 18-25 years, only about 20% of whom were admitted to one facility, said senior study author Anjlee Mahajan, MD, of the University of California, Davis, adding that another 20% were seen at five or more centers over a 7-year follow-up period.

Fragmentation of care didn’t increase the risk of death in this study, as investigators hypothesized it might. However, the outcomes and the quality of care among young adults with SCD who received inpatient care at multiple facilities nevertheless was likely to be affected, Dr. Mahajan said at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

“Imagine what that would be like to have a chronic, debilitating illness and to have to go to multiple different hospitals, during this vulnerable time period in your life, and being seen by different care providers who may not know you and may not have all of your records as well,” she said in a press conference at the meeting.

Providers and the health care system need to work harder to ensure young adults receive comprehensive and coordinated care, especially at a time when therapeutic advances are improving the treatment of this disease, according to the investigator.

“When you’re seen at one center, you can have a specific pain plan, and maybe when you are going into the emergency room and being admitted, your sickle cell care provider might come and visit you in the hospital or at least be in contact with your team,” Dr. Mahajan said in an interview. “That may not happen if you’re going to be seen at five different hospitals in 7 years.”

Encouraging the concept of “medical home” for SCD may be help ease transition from pediatric to adult care, thereby reducing fragmentation of care for young adults, according to Julie A. Panepinto, MD, professor of pediatric hematology and the director of the center for clinical effectiveness research at the Children’s Research Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

“That 18- to 30-year-old age group historically and repeatedly over time is shown to be the age that relies on the emergency department and that has a higher mortality as they transition,” Dr. Panepinto said in an interview. “So ideally, you would have a pediatric program that’s comprehensive and that can transition an adult patient to a very similar setting with knowledgeable providers in SCD across the spectrum, from the emergency department to the hospital to the outpatient clinic.”

Dr. Mahajan reported no disclosures related to her group’s study. Coauthors provided disclosures related to Pfizer and Janssen.

SOURCE: Shatola A et al. ASH 2019. Abstract 4667.

Next Article: