The impact of economic considerations on clinical decisionmaking: The case of thrombolytic therapy

Baruch Brody, Nelda Wray, Sherry Bame, Carol M. Ashton, Nancy Petersen, Mary Harward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study examines the intravenous use of two thrombolytic agents [streptokinase (SK) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)] in the acute phase of myocardial infarction (MI). These two agents have very different costs and offer an excellent opportunity to study both the impact of economic factors on clinical decisionmaking and the potential for cost savings by limiting the use of expensive new therapeutic agents. A nationwide survey of the 5,792 acute care general hospitals listed in the American Hospital Association's 1988 data file was responded to by 2,651 hospitals (46%) and revealed that 2,384 of these responding hospitals (90%) were using thrombolytic therapy. For 2,200 of these 2,384 hospitals (92%), the respondent was a physician who primarily used one of the two drugs. Eight hundred eighty-six of these 2,200 physicians (40%) primarily used SK while 1,314 (60%) primarily used tPA. SK users were more concentrated in federal public hospitals (69% used SK) than in nonfederal public hospitals (47% used SK), and were least concentrated in private hospitals (36% used SK). There was no difference between the rate of SK vs tPA use in investor-owned and not-for-profit private hospitals. SK users most often (62%) cited various economic factors as the reason for their choice. The users of tPA primarily (73%) cited clinical preferability as the reason for their choice even though trials are still ongoing to see which drug is preferable. Several multivariate analyses shed light upon the association between choice of thrombolytic agent and various additional physician and hospital characteristics. These data clearly indicate that while new therapies are rapidly implemented by the medical community, considerations of cost have a substantial impact upon the pattern of implementation and reflect a desire to implement cost savings in the use of new drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-910
Number of pages12
JournalMedical Care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • Cost
  • Decisionmaking
  • Streptokinase (SK)
  • Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of economic considerations on clinical decisionmaking: The case of thrombolytic therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this