Wide variation in cost of surgical care for parathyroidectomy: is there a need for standardization of practice?

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Abstract

Background.

Identifying hospital and provider variation in surgical cost is a potent method for controlling rising healthcare expenditure and delivering cost-effective care. The purpose of this study was to examine the variation of hospital cost by providers for parathyroidectomy in a single academic institution.

Methods.

We retrospectively evaluated 894 consecutive parathyroidectomies under 8 surgeons in our institution between September 2011 and July 2016. Total duration of stay and cost were evaluated using nonparametric tests. Categorical variables were evaluated with χ2.

Results.

The median total hospital cost for parathyroidectomy was $4,863.28 (interquartile range: 4,196–5,764), but the median costs per provider varied widely from $4,522.30 to $12,072.87. The median duration of stay was 0 days (IQR: 0–1) and demonstrated a wide variation among providers. Longer duration of practice was associated with lower cost. Despite the variation, only 2% was readmitted after discharge with no patient mortality.

Conclusion.

We found substantial variation in hospital cost among providers for parathyroidectomy despite practicing in the same academic institution, with some surgeons spending 4 time more for the same operation. Implementing institutional standards of practice could be a method to decrease variation and costs of surgical care.

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