Background The desire to provide cost-effective care has lead to an investigation of the costs of therapy for end-stage renal disease. Organ quality metrics are one way to attempt to stratify kidney transplants, although the ability of these metrics to predict costs and resource use is undetermined. Methods The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients database was linked to the University HealthSystem Consortium Database to identify adult deceased donor kidney transplant recipients from 2009 to 2012. Patients were divided into cohorts by kidney criteria (standard vs expanded) or kidney donor profile index (KDPI) score (<85 vs 85+). Length of stay, 30-day readmission, discharge disposition, and delayed graft function were used as indicators of resource use. Cost was defined as reimbursement based on Medicare cost/charge ratios and included the costs of readmission when applicable. Results More than 19,500 patients populated the final dataset. Lower-quality kidneys (expanded criteria donor or KDPI 85+) were more likely to be transplanted in older (both P <.001) and diabetic recipients (both P <.001). After multivariable analysis controlling for recipient characteristics, we found that expanded criteria donor transplants were not associated with increased costs compared with standard criteria donor transplants (risk ratio [RR] 0.97, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.93-1.00, P =.07). KDPI 85+ was associated with slightly lower costs than KDPI <85 transplants (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.91-0.99, P =.02). When KDPI was considered as a continuous variable, the association was maintained (RR 0.9993, 95% CI 0.999-0.9998, P =.01). Conclusion Organ quality metrics are less influential predictors of short-term costs than recipient factors. Future studies should focus on recipient characteristics as a way to discern high versus low cost transplantation procedures.
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