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Ann Surg. 2007 Dec;246(6):1083-91.

Racial disparities in clinical and economic outcomes from thyroidectomy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA. julie.sosa@yale.edu

Erratum in

  • Ann Surg. 2010 Apr;251(4):781-2.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Thyroid disease is common, and thyroidectomy is a mainstay of treatment for many benign and malignant thyroid conditions. Overall, thyroidectomy is associated with favorable outcomes, particularly if experienced surgeons perform it.

OBJECTIVE:

To examine racial differences in clinical and economic outcomes of patients undergoing thyroidectomy in the United States.

DESIGN, SETTING, PATIENTS:

The nationwide inpatient sample was used to identify thyroidectomy admissions from 1999 to 2004, using ICD-9 procedure codes. Race and other clinical and demographic characteristics of patients were collected along with surgeon volume and hospital characteristics to predict outcomes.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Inpatient mortality, complication rates, length of stay (LOS), discharge status, and mean total costs by racial group.

RESULTS:

In 2003-2004, 16,878 patients underwent thyroid procedures; 71% were white, 14% black, 9% Hispanic, and 6% other. Mean LOS was longer for blacks (2.5 days) than for whites (1.8 days, P < 0.001); Hispanics had an intermediate LOS (2.2 days). Although rare, in-hospital mortality was higher for blacks (0.4%) compared with that for other races (0.1%, P < 0.001). Blacks trended toward higher overall complication rates (4.9%) compared with whites (3.8%) and Hispanics (3.6%, P = 0.056). Mean total costs were significantly lower for whites ($5447/patient) compared with those for blacks ($6587) and Hispanics ($6294). The majority of Hispanics (55%) and blacks (52%) had surgery by the lowest-volume surgeons (1-9 cases per year), compared with only 44% of whites. Highest-volume surgeons (>100 cases per year) performed 5% of thyroidectomies, but 90% of their patients were white (P < 0.001). Racial disparities in outcomes persist after adjustment for surgeon volume group.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings suggest that, although thyroidectomy is considered safe, significant racial disparities exist in clinical and economic outcomes. In part, inequalities result from racial differences in access to experienced surgeons; more data are needed with regard to racial differences in thyroid biology and surveillance to explain the balance of observed disparities.

PMID:
18043114
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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