The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating to help patients compare hospitals based on a 5-star scale. The star rating was designed to assess overall quality of the institution; thus, its validity toward specifically assessing surgical quality is unknown.Objective
To examine whether CMS high-star hospitals (HSHs) have improved patient outcomes and resource use in advanced laparoscopic abdominal surgery compared with low-star hospitals (LSHs).Design, Setting, and Participants
Using the University HealthSystem Consortium database (which includes academic centers and their affiliate hospitals) from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2015, this administrative database observational study compared outcomes of 72 662 advanced laparoscopic abdominal operations between HSHs (4-5 stars) and LSHs (1-2 stars). The star rating includes 57 measures across 7 areas of quality. Patients who underwent advanced laparoscopic abdominal surgery, including bariatric surgery (sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass), colorectal surgery (colectomy, proctectomy), or hiatal hernia surgery (paraesophageal hernia repair, Nissen fundoplication), were included. Risk adjustment included exclusion of patients with major and extreme severity of illness.Main Outcomes and Measures
Main outcome measures included serious morbidity, in-hospital mortality, intensive care unit admissions, and cost.Results
A total of 72 662 advanced laparoscopic abdominal operations were performed in patients at 66 HSHs (n = 38 299; mean [SD] age, 51.26 [15.25] years; 12 096 [31.5%] male and 26 203 [68.4%] female; 28 971 [75.6%] white and 9328 [24.4%] nonwhite) and 78 LSHs (n = 34 363; mean [SD] age, 49.77 [14.77] years; 9902 [28.8%] male and 24 461 [71.2%] female; 21 876 [67.6%] white and 12 487 [32.4%] nonwhite). The HSHs were observed to have fewer intensive care unit admissions (1007 [2.6%] vs 1711 [5.0%], P < .001) and lower mean cost ($7866 vs $8708, P < .001). No significant difference was found in mortality between HSHs and LSHs for any advanced laparoscopic abdominal surgery. No significant difference was found in serious morbidity between HSHs and LSHs for bariatric or hiatal hernia surgery. However, for colorectal surgery, serious morbidity was lower at HSHs compared with LSHs (258 [2.2%] vs 276 [2.9%], P = .002).Conclusions and Relevance
This study found that HSHs treat fewer ethnic minorities and have similar outcomes as LSHs for advanced laparoscopic abdominal operations. However, HSHs may represent hospitals with improved resource use and cost.