Authors: Nirmish Shah, Menaka Bhor, Lin Xie, Jincy Paulose, Huseyin Yuce

Objectives: This study evaluated the prevalence rate of vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) episodes, rates of uncomplicated and complicated VOC episodes, and the primary reasons for emergency room (ER) visits and inpatient admissions for sickle cell disease (SCD) patients.

Methods: The Medicaid Analytic extracts database was used to identify adult SCD patients using claims from 01JUL2009-31DEC2012. The date of the first observed SCD claim was designated as the index date. Patients were required to have continuous medical and pharmacy benefits for ≥6 months baseline and ≥12 months follow-up period. Patient demographics, baseline clinical characteristics, the rate of uncomplicated and complicated VOC (VOC with concomitant SCD complications) episodes, and reasons for ER visits and inpatient stays were analyzed descriptively.

Results: A total of 8,521 patients were included in the analysis, with a median age of 30 years. The average follow-up period was 2.7 years. The rate of VOC episodes anytime in the follow-up was 3.31 in person-years. During the first-year follow-up period, an average of 2.79 VOC episodes were identified per SCD patients, with 1.06 VOC episodes treated in inpatient setting and 0.90 VOC episodes in ER without admission. A total of 76,154 VOC episodes were identified during the entire follow-up period for the overall SCD patients. Most of the VOC episodes (70.3% [n = 53,523]) were uncomplicated episodes, and 29.7% were complicated episodes. Using primary diagnosis claims only, the most frequent complications during the VOC episode were infectious diseases (25.9%), fever (21.8%), and pulmonary disorders (16.2%). Among ER and hospitalizations related to VOC or SCD complication, ~85.0% had VOCs as the primary reason for admission; 15.0% had SCD complications as the primary reason.

Conclusion: In summary, SCD and its related comorbidities and complications result in high acute health care utilization. In addition, VOC remains the primary reason for SCD patients’ ER visits and inpatient admissions.

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