Cancer Surgery Costs Lower for High-Volume Surgeons

Hospital volume has little effect on costs

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- High-volume surgeons are associated with lower inpatient costs for cancer surgery than low-volume surgeons, while hospital volume has little effect, according to study findings published in the July issue of Medical Care.

Vivian Ho, Ph.D., from Rice University, and Thomas Aloia, M.D., from The Methodist Hospital, both in Houston, examined whether hospital and surgeon volume affected inpatient costs using administrative hospital discharge data from 266,648 patients who received one of six cancer resections from 1989 to 2000.

The researchers found that compared with low-volume surgeons, costs for high-volume surgeons were 5.5 percent lower for pneumonectomy and 10.6 percent lower for esophagectomy for the entire period, and lower for colectomy, rectal resection, pulmonary lobectomy and pancreaticoduodenectomy from 1993-2000. The lowest differential was 4.4 percent for colectomy and 25.6 percent for pancreaticoduodenectomy from 1993-1996. High hospital volume was associated with significantly lower costs for colectomy only, the report indicates.

"High surgeon volume, rather than high hospital volume, is associated with lower inpatient cancer surgery costs, and the relationship has become significant in recent years for each cancer procedure examined," Ho and Aloia conclude. "These data suggest that cost savings are best achieved through a surgeon-specific referral program."

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