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Hospital process compliance and surgical outcomes in Medicare beneficiaries

Publication Abstract

Nicholas, Lauren, John Birkmeyer, Justin Dimick, and Nick Osborne. 2010. "Hospital process compliance and surgical outcomes in Medicare beneficiaries." Archives of Surgery, 145(10): 999-104.

This article reports on a study to determine whether high rates of compliance with perioperative processes of care used for public reporting and pay-for-performance are associated with lower rates of risk-adjusted mortality and high-risk surgical complications. The study analyzed Medicare in-patient claims data on beneficiaries who had one of six high-risk surgeries in 2005 and 2006. The researchers assessed the relationship between adverse outcomes and hospital compliance with the surgical processes of care reported on the Hospital Compare Web site. The main outcome measures were the 30-day postoperative mortality rate, venous thromboembolism, and surgical site infection.

The authors report that process compliance ranged from 53.7% in low-compliance hospitals to 91.4% in high compliance hospitals. Risk-adjusted outcomes did not vary at high-compliance hospitals relative to medium-compliance hospitals for mortality rate (odds ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.92-1.05), surgical site infection (1.01; 0.90-1.13), or venous thromboembolism (1.04; 0.89-1.20). Outcomes also did not vary at low-compliance hospitals. Stratified analyses by operation type confirm these trends for the 6 procedures individually.

The authors conclude that currently available information on the Hospital Compare Web site will not help patients identify hospitals with better outcomes for high-risk surgery. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to identify higher leverage process measures and devote greater attention to profiling hospitals based on outcomes to improve public reporting and pay-for-performance efforts.

DOI:10.1001/archsurg.2010.191 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2959198. (Pub Med Central)

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Country of focus: United States.

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