Background Type 1 diabetes is among the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases in the US. Initial type 1 diabetes management education and care can take place in different clinical settings. This study assessed metabolic outcomes (i.e. hemoglobin A1C), healthcare utilization and costs among new-onset type 1 diabetic children who received initial diabetes education and care in a hospital compared to those children in an outpatient pediatric endocrinology clinic. Methods A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted from the payer's perspective. New-onset type 1 diabetic children, aged 1--18, presented at Baystate Children's Hospital (Massachusetts) from 2008--2009 were included in the study if lab test confirmed diagnosis and there was one year of follow-up. Inpatients spent at least one night in the hospital during a 10-day diagnosis period and received all or part of diabetes education there. Outpatients were diagnosed and received all diabetes education in a pediatric endocrinology clinic. Metabolic outcomes were measured at diagnosis and at one year post-diagnosis. Healthcare charges and electronic medical records data were reviewed from 2008--2010. Healthcare costs components included diagnostic test, pediatric, endocrinology and hospitalists care, critical and emergency care, type 1 diabetes related supplies, prescription drugs, and IV products. Results Study sample included 84 patients (33 inpatient and 51 outpatients). No statistically significant differences in patient demographic characteristics were found between groups. There were no statistically significant differences in metabolic outcomes between groups. Total cost at one year post-diagnosis per new-onset type 1 diabetic child was $12,332 and $5,053 in the inpatient and outpatient groups, respectively. The average healthcare cost for pediatric endocrinology care was $4,080 and $3,904 per child in the inpatient and outpatient groups, respectively. Conclusion Provision of initial type 1 diabetes education and care to new-onset non-critically ill children in a hospital setting increases healthcare costs without improving patient's glycemic control in the first year post-diagnosis.
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