Amiodarone Protocol Provides Cost-Effective Reduction in Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation

J. Hunter Mehaffey, Robert B. Hawkins, Matthew Byler, Judy Smith, John A. Kern, Irving Kron, Gorav Ailawadi, Tanya Wanchek, Leora T. Yarboro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) after cardiac operations results in a significant increase in morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. Prophylactic amiodarone has been shown to reduce the incidence of POAF; however, the cost-effectiveness of a protocol-driven approach remains unknown. Methods: All patients with a Society of Thoracic Surgeons risk score enrolled in a prophylactic amiodarone protocol (n = 153) were propensity score matched 1:3 with patients before protocol implementation (n = 3,574). Multivariate logistic and linear regressions assessed the relative risks (POAF reduction and adverse medication effects) in the matched cohort of amiodarone therapy and costs, respectively. TreeAge cost-effectiveness software (TreeAge Software, Inc, Williamstown, MA) modeled the effects of prophylactic amiodarone costs, complication rates, and quality of life. Results: Of patients eligible for the prophylactic amiodarone protocol, 94.3% (281 of 298) were enrolled. Prophylactic amiodarone significantly reduced the rate of POAF (25.7% vs 16.8%, p < 0.0001). A total of 600 matched patients demonstrate no baseline differences in demographics, comorbidities, disease state, or operative factors, with a significant reduction in POAF without an increase in other associated complications. With the use these adjusted estimates, the prophylactic amiodarone protocol demonstrated a cost savings of $458 per patient. Sensitivity analysis confirmed the protocol is cost-effective for all protocol-related POAF risk reductions below an odds ratio of 0.726. Conclusions: Implementation of a prophylactic amiodarone protocol significantly reduced risk-adjusted rates of POAF, with a cost savings of $458 per patient. This analysis demonstrates how rigorous quantitative analysis can evaluate the benefits of quality improvement projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1697-1702
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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