Severe Forms of Fibromyalgia Prove Costly to Healthcare System in Germany, Study Finds

Severe Forms of Fibromyalgia Prove Costly to Healthcare System in Germany, Study Finds

The average cost of hospital care in Germany for patients with fibromyalgia with acute episodes of pain was reported in a new study to be 3,725.84 euros (roughly $4,163 in U.S. dollars), a high cost to the healthcare system.

The study titled, “Severe forms of fibromyalgia with acute exacerbation of pain: costs, comorbidities, and length of stay in inpatient care,” was published in the journal ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research this month.

Fibromyalgia is becoming increasingly more costly to healthcare systems in the European Union, with both high clinical staff costs and high medical and nonmedical infrastructure costs, according to the study. Researchers attributed the high costs to the higher amount of care required for patients who are diagnosed late in the disease process — too often the case in fibromyalgia, because it is a difficult condition to diagnose —  and the fact that patients also tend to have a high rate of other health conditions.

“Studies show that patients with fibromyalgia often face a long road to diagnosis, even though early diagnosis can reduce the cost to health systems,” the authors wrote.

The study analyzed costs for the inpatient care of 263 (247 female) patients with an average age of 54.78 years. The majority had stayed an average of 10-14 days in the hospital.

Researchers also looked at the number of other conditions patients had, and what services contributed the most to driving up the cost of care for these patients. Data collected for billing or administrative purposes was used for the analysis.

A breakdown 3,725.84 euros average cost of inpatient care for patients with fibromyalgia hospitalized for episodes, or exacerbations, of acute pain showed that staff and material costs of the nonmedical hospital services (roughly 1400 Euros) and the costs of doctor and nursing care (roughly 1560 Euros) accounted for the majority of the costs.

There were 1,572 additional diagnoses, an average of 6.1 additional diagnoses per patient. Most common were diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, including low-back pain, low-back pain with sciatica, and spondylosis experienced at the same time as fibromyalgia.

The study also revealed that severe forms of fibromyalgia are typically associated with a high number of failed treatments.

“This study includes all of the costs of inpatient care for those with a severe form of FMS. As part of a cost-of-illness study, economic data analysis and its results provide important information for health-policy makers, hospital managers, and the general public.” the team concluded.

Moreover, the authors believe that this study can be used as starting point for benchmarking projects and to create a basis for care optimization.