The Impact of Surgical Volume on Outcomes and Cost in Cleft Repair: A Kids' Inpatient Database Analysis

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BackgroundCentralization of specialist services, including cleft service delivery, is occurring worldwide with the aim of improving the outcomes. This study examines the relationship between hospital surgical volume in cleft palate repair and outcomes.MethodsA retrospective analysis of the Kids' Inpatient Database was undertaken. Children 3 years or younger undergoing cleft palate repair in 2012 were identified. Hospital volume was categorized by cases per year as low volume (LV; 0–14), intermediate volume (IV; 15–46), or high volume (HV; 47–99); differences in complications, hospital costs, and length of stay (LOS) were determined by hospital volume.ResultsData for 2389 children were retrieved: 24.9% (n = 595) were LV, 50.1% (n = 1196) were IV, and 25.0% (n = 596) were HV. High-volume centers were more frequently located in the West (71.9%) compared with LV (19.9%) or IV (24.5%) centers (P < 0.001 for hospital region). Median household income was more commonly highest quartile in HV centers compared with IV or LV centers (32.3% vs 21.7% vs 18.1%, P < 0.001). There was no difference in complications between different volume centers (P = 0.74). Compared with HV centers, there was a significant decrease in mean costs for LV centers ($9682 vs $,378, P < 0.001) but no significant difference in cost for IV centers ($9260 vs $9682, P = 0.103). Both IV and LV centers had a significantly greater LOS when compared with HV centers (1.97 vs 2.10 vs 1.74, P < 0.001).ConclusionsDespite improvement in LOS in HV centers, we did not find a reduction in cost in HV centers. Further research is needed with analysis of outpatient, long-term outcomes to ensure widespread cost-efficiency.

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