Because lower volumes of high-risk surgeries have been tied to poorer surgical outcomes, such as increased rates of mortality and complications, purchasers can help save thousands of patients’ lives by guiding them to hospitals and surgeons that meet or exceed the outlined surgical volume standards.
The section asks hospitals about the following:
Three decades of research have consistently demonstrated that patients that have their high-risk surgery at a hospital and by a surgeon that have more experience with the procedure have better outcomes, including lower mortality rates, lower complication rates, and a shorter length of stay than for patients who have their surgery done at a hospital or by a surgeon with less experience.
- For example, U.S. News conducted an analysis looking at the volume-outcome relationship and found that large numbers of hospitals continue to do small numbers of procedures and as many as 11,000 deaths might have been prevented from 2010 through 2012 if patients who went to the lowest-volume fifth of the hospitals had gone to the highest-volume fifth.
- Similarly, a recent study of cancer surgeries by the California Health Care Foundation further points to the relationship between very low volumes of cancer surgeries and poor patient outcomes.
Lower surgical mortality at high-volume hospitals does not simply reflect more skillful surgeons and fewer technical errors with the procedure itself. More likely, it reflects more proficiency with all aspects of care underlying successful surgery, including patient selection, anesthesia, and postoperative care.