BACKGROUND: In 2017, Massachusetts General Hospital implemented the Severe Immunotherapy Complications (SIC) Service, a multidisciplinary care team for patients hospitalized with immune-related adverse events (irAEs), a unique spectrum of toxicities associated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). This study’s objectives were to evaluate the intervention’s (1) effect on patient outcomes and healthcare utilization, and (2) ability to collect biological samples via a central infrastructure, in order to study the mechanisms responsible for irAEs.
METHODS: A hospital database was used to identify patients who received ICIs for a malignancy and were hospitalized with severe irAEs, before (April 2, 2016-October 3, 2017) and after (October 3, 2017-October 24, 2018) SIC Service initiation. The primary outcome was readmission rate after index hospitalization. Secondary outcomes included length of stay (LOS) for admissions, corticosteroid and non-steroidal second-line immunosuppression use, ICI discontinuation, and inpatient mortality.
RESULTS: In the pre-SIC period, 127 of 1169 patients treated with ICIs were hospitalized for irAEs; in the post-SIC period, 122 of 1159. After SIC service initiation, reductions were observed in irAE readmission rate (14.8% post-SIC vs 25.9% pre-SIC; OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.22 to 0.95; p=0.036) and readmission LOS (median 6 days post-SIC vs 7 days pre-SIC; 95% CI -16.03 to -0.14; p=0.046). No significant pre-initiation and post-initiation differences were detected in corticosteroid use, second-line immunosuppression, ICI discontinuation, or inpatient mortality rates. The SIC Service collected 789 blood and tissue samples from 234 patients with suspected irAEs.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to report that establishing a highly subspecialized care team focused on irAEs is associated with improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare utilization. Furthermore, the SIC Service successfully integrated blood and tissue collection safety into routine care.