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Surgery. 2002 Jan;131(1):6-15.

The influence of hospital and surgeon volume on in-hospital mortality for colectomy, gastrectomy, and lung lobectomy in patients with cancer.

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Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior, School of Public Health, University at Albany, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3456, USA.



This study explores the volume-mortality relationship for 3 groups of cancer procedures to determine whether higher-volume hospitals, higher-volume surgeons, or both are associated with lower in-hospital mortality.


New York's Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System was used to identify more than 32,000 hospital inpatients with a cancer diagnosis who underwent colectomy, lobectomy of the lung, or gastrectomy between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1997. The association of in-hospital mortality rates with provider (hospital and surgeon) volume was examined after adjusting for differences in age, demographics, organ metastasis, socioeconomic status, and comorbidities.


For hospital volume for gastrectomy, the highest-volume quartile had an absolute risk-adjusted mortality rate that was 7.1% lower (P <.0001) than the lowest-volume quartile, although the overall mortality rate for the procedure was only 6.2%. For surgeon volume for colectomy, the highest- and lowest- volume quartiles differed by 1.9% (P <.0001), although the procedure mortality rate was only 3.5%. For hospital volume for lung lobectomy, the absolute difference in mortality was 1.7%. Patients undergoing operations performed by high-volume surgeons in high-volume hospitals usually had significantly lower risk-adjusted mortality rates than did patients who had low-volume surgeons or who were in low-volume hospitals, or both.


For all 3 procedure groups, the risk-adjusted in-hospital mortality is significantly lower when the procedures are performed by high-volume providers.

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