Association of High-Volume Surgeons Working in High-Volume Hospitals with Cost of Free Flap Surgeries

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We examined the associations of surgeon and hospital volume with total cost, length of stay (LOS), and cost per day for free tissue transfer (FTT) surgeries. Evidence demonstrates a higher likelihood of success for FTT in higher volume hospitals. Little, however, is known about volume-outcome associations for surgical costs and LOS. We hypothesized that higher provider volume is associated with lower cost and shorter LOS.


Using Taiwan’s national data (2001–2012), we conducted a retrospective cohort study of all adults 18–64 years of age who underwent FTT during the study period. We used hierarchical regression modeling for our analyses. Our 3 outcome variables were total cost of FTT surgery, LOS in hospital, and cost per day.


Except for functional muscle flap, in which LOS was 12 days shorter in high-volume compared with low-volume hospitals (P = 0.017), no association between hospital volume and LOS was found. Contrary to our hypothesis, our results for all FTT cases demonstrate positive associations of medium-volume hospitals (OR = 1.31; CI, 1.11–1.55) and high-volume surgeons (OR = 1.16; CI,1.03–1.32) with total cost and cost per day, respectively. The interactions of hospital volume and surgeon volume show that in medium- and high-volume hospitals, surgeons with the highest volume had the lowest predicted cost per day among hospitals in that category; but all differences in cost were small.


There were no substantial variations based on different hospital or surgeon volume in LOS, total cost, or cost per day for FTT operations performed in Taiwan.

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