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The Effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Treatment of Panic Disorder on Emergency Room and Laboratory Resource Utilization

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62:678-682

Background: While it has been well documented that patients with untreated panic disorder frequently utilize emergency room (ER) and laboratory services, no published data evaluate whether selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment of patients with panic disorder is associated with decreased use of these services in the managed care organization setting.

Method: A medical and pharmacy claims database representing individuals from several managed care organizations was used to analyze ER and laboratory resource utilization and cost for 120 patients with panic disorder (ICD-9-CM criteria) who received SSRI treatment.

Results: SSRI treatment was associated with a reduction in the mean number of ER and laboratory visits and costs in the 6-month period following therapy initiation compared with the 6-month period prior to therapy initiation (sertraline: visits, -79.5%; costs, -85.2%; p < .05; fluoxetine: visits, -25.0%; costs, -69.5%; p = NS; and paroxetine: visits, -8.6%; costs, -30.8%; p = NS).

Conclusion: The results of the current study suggest that appropriate treatment of panic disorder may decrease unnecessary resource utilization for the medical symptoms associated with panic disorder.