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J Urol. 2007 Nov;178(5):2103-8; discussion 2108. Epub 2007 Sep 17.

Trends in regionalization of inpatient care for urological malignancies, 1988 to 2002.

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  • 1Urologic Outcomes Research Group, Program in Urologic Oncology, Department of Urology, University of California-San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center, California 94115-1711, USA.



Higher hospital and clinician volumes may be associated with improved patient outcomes for complex surgical and medical care, although the strength and consistency of this association varies markedly across specific conditions and procedures. Pressures from payors and policymakers exist to move complex care to high volume hospitals. The net effect of these pressures may be the regionalization of care. We quantified trends in the regionalization of inpatient care for urological oncology in a national administrative database.


The Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a 20% stratified sample of United States community hospital admissions, was queried for surgical and nonsurgical admissions for bladder, renal and prostate cancer care between 1988 and 2002. Hospitals were grouped into tertiles by annual surgical volume. Trends over time in the annual discharge rate by hospital volume tertile, geographic region and insurance status were analyzed.


High volume hospitals were defined by at least 22, 12 and 26 cases per year for bladder, renal and prostate cancer, respectively. High volume hospital discharges increased significantly as a proportion of all discharges for bladder (67% to 70%) and renal (67% to 73%) cancer surgery, and they were essentially constant for prostate surgery (76%). Trends were similar for Medicare and Medicaid patients except high volume hospital discharges for prostate cancer decreased during the study period. Significant regional variation was observed for the regionalization of surgical and nonsurgical care.


Nationwide Inpatient Sample data demonstrate the ongoing regionalization of urological oncology care. The policy implications of this trend are complex with potentially important benefits and risks in terms of access to and quality of care.

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