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Oncology. 2012;83(5):283-91. doi: 10.1159/000341658. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Comparison of quick diagnosis units and conventional hospitalization for the diagnosis of cancer in Spain: a descriptive cohort study.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pí i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Quick diagnosis units (QDUs) in Spain provide patients with severe disease who would normally require hospitalization with the prompt and effective diagnosis they deserve. We compared the value and cost of a QDU and of conventional hospitalization in assessing patients with cancer.


In a descriptive cohort study, 169 patients with a final diagnosis of cancer were prospectively evaluated between November 2008 and April 2010. We also analyzed a retrospective cohort of 53 randomly selected patients with neoplasia hospitalized during this period. In addition to the variables time to diagnosis and length of stay, we compared the costs of both models using microcosting techniques.


Colorectal cancer was the commonest cancer (26%). QDU patients were younger than hospitalized patients (68.3 vs. 74.7 years; p < 0.05), and there were also significant differences with respect to the source of referral (p < 0.00001) and destination (p < 0.00001), but not regarding diagnosis (p > 0.34), reason for consultation (p > 0.26) and time to diagnosis/length of stay (Wilcoxon rank sum test, p > 0.05). The mean costs for hospitalization were EUR 4,059.37 compared with EUR 601.84 in the QDU.


For diagnostic purposes, cancer patients can be managed similarly in a QDU or in in-hospital settings, but the QDU model seems to incur fewer costs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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