Variation in Laparoscopic Nephrectomy Surgical Costs: Opportunities for High Value Care Delivery

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Abstract

Introduction:

Rising health care costs are leading to efforts to minimize costs while maintaining high quality care. Practice variation in the operating room that is not dictated by patient necessity or clinical guidelines presents an opportunity for cost containment. We identified variation in surgical supply costs among urological surgeons performing laparoscopic nephrectomy and evaluated whether this variation was associated with patient outcomes.

Methods:

A total of 211 consecutive laparoscopic nephrectomies performed at an academic center between September 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015 were identified and surgical supply costs for each case were determined from the institutional negotiated rate. Patient and surgical factors relevant to case complexity, comorbidity and perioperative outcomes were obtained. Univariate and multivariable analysis of predictors of surgical supply costs and patient outcome as determined by length of stay was conducted.

Results:

Median supply cost was $2,537, with individual medians ranging from $1,642 to $4,524, representing a significant variation among surgeons (p <0.01). On multivariable analysis, accounting for patient factors and case complexity, most surgeons remained significant predictors of surgical supply costs. Case supply cost was not a significant predictor of patient outcomes as measured by length of stay on univariate or multivariable analysis controlling for surgeon, patient factors and case complexity.

Conclusions:

Significant variation in surgeons’ surgical supply costs for laparoscopic nephrectomy exists and is driven by surgeons, and this does not correlate with length of stay. Targeting variation in surgical supply costs in this setting represents an opportunity for cost savings without adversely impacting patient outcomes.

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