Surgical edge goes to regional hospitals

Feb. 21, 2011 at 12:14 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Those getting elective orthopedic surgeries at high-volume, regional hospitals have better outcomes than patients at local hospitals, U.S. researchers say.

Stephen Lyman and Dr. Robert Marx, both of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, analyzed more than 974,000 patients who received elective total shoulder or total hip arthroplasty.

"Regionalizers," patients who travel to a regional, high-volume hospital, were found to be disproportionately younger, white and male with private insurance, the researchers say.

"Compared to local hospitals, high-volume regional centers are associated with improved outcomes and decreased post-operative complications," Marx says in a statement. "Our analyses showed that regionalizers are less likely to have infections or complications."

The researchers told the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found significant differences in rates of infection and death during hospitalization, depending on a local hospital or a regional high-volume hospital.

"More and more, patients consider healthcare to be a commodity. They see medical centers as interchangeable and believe that surgical outcomes are uniform across hospitals," Lyman says. "Our analysis of almost 1 million elective orthopedic surgeries shows that this is not the case. High-volume centers, which have extensive orthopedic surgical experience, offer high-quality surgeries and accompanying recovery periods for patients."

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