Large Variability in the Diversity of Physiologically Complex Surgical Procedures Exists Nationwide Among All Hospitals Including Among Large Teaching Hospitals

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Multiple previous studies have shown that having a large diversity of procedures has a substantial impact on quality management of hospital surgical suites. At hospitals with substantial diversity, unless sophisticated statistical methods suitable for rare events are used, anesthesiologists working in surgical suites will have inaccurate predictions of surgical blood usage, case durations, cost accounting and price transparency, times remaining in late running cases, and use of intraoperative equipment. What is unknown is whether large diversity is a feature of only a few very unique set of hospitals nationwide (eg, the largest hospitals in each state or province).

METHODS:

The 2013 United States Nationwide Readmissions Database was used to study heterogeneity among 1981 hospitals in their diversities of physiologically complex surgical procedures (ie, the procedure codes). The diversity of surgical procedures performed at each hospital was quantified using a summary measure, the number of different physiologically complex surgical procedures commonly performed at the hospital (ie, 1/Herfindahl).

RESULTS:

A total of 53.9% of all hospitals commonly performed <10 physiologically complex procedures (lower 99% confidence limit [CL], 51.3%). A total of 14.2% (lower 99% CL, 12.4%) of hospitals had >3-fold larger diversity (ie, >30 commonly performed physiologically complex procedures). Larger hospitals had greater diversity than the small- and medium-sized hospitals (P < .0001). Teaching hospitals had greater diversity than did the rural and urban nonteaching hospitals (P < .0001). A total of 80.0% of the 170 large teaching hospitals commonly performed >30 procedures (lower 99% CL, 71.9% of hospitals). However, there was considerable variability among the large teaching hospitals in their diversity (interquartile range of the numbers of commonly performed physiologically complex procedures = 19.3; lower 99% CL, 12.8 procedures).

CONCLUSIONS:

The diversity of procedures represents a substantive differentiator among hospitals. Thus, the usefulness of statistical methods for operating room management should be expected to be heterogeneous among hospitals. Our results also show that “large teaching hospital” alone is an insufficient description for accurate prediction of the extent to which a hospital sustains the operational and financial consequences of performing a wide diversity of surgical procedures. Future research can evaluate the extent to which hospitals with very large diversity are indispensable in their catchment area.

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