Length of stay (LoS) following elective surgery is being reported as an outcomes quality measure. Regional referral centres may care for patients travelling significant distances. The effect of travel distance on LoS in pancreatic surgery patients was examined.Methods:
National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data on pancreatic surgery patients, operated during the period from 2005 to 2011, were reviewed. Demographics, surgical variables and distance travelled were analysed relative to LoS. The LoS was log-transformed in general linear models to achieve normality.Results:
Of the 243 patients, 53% were male. The mean ± standard deviation (SD) age of the total patient sample was 60.6 ± 14 years. The mean ± SD distance travelled was 203 ± 319 miles (326.7 ± 513.4 km) [median: 132 miles (212.4 km); range: 3–3006 miles (4.8–4837.7 km)], and the mean ± SD LoS was 10.5 ± 7 days (range: 1–46 days). Univariate analysis showed a near significant increase in LoS with increased distance travelled (P = 0.05). Significant variables related to LoS were: age (P = 0.002); relative value units (P < 0.001), and preoperative American Society of Anesthesiologists class (P = 0.005). In a general linear model, for every 100 miles (160.9 km) travelled there is an associated 2% increase in LoS (P = 0.031). When the distance travelled is increased by 500 miles (804.7 km), LoS increases by 10.5%.Conclusions:
Increased travel distance from a patient's home to the hospital was independently associated with an increase in LoS. If LoS is a reportable quality measure in pancreatic surgery, travel distance should be considered in risk adjustments.