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JAMA. 1991 Aug 14;266(6):803-9.

A regional prospective study of in-hospital mortality associated with coronary artery bypass grafting. The Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchock Medical Center, Hanover, NH 03756.



A prospective regional study was conducted to determine if the observed differences in in-hospital mortality rates associated with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) are solely the result of differences in patient case mix. DESIGN-Regional prospective cohort study. Data including patient demographic and historical data, body surface area, cardiac catheterization results, priority of surgery, comorbidity, and status at hospital discharge were collected. This study presents data for 3055 CABG patients between July 1, 1987, and April 15, 1989.


This study includes data from all surgeons performing cardiothoracic surgery in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont; the data were collected from five regional medical centers.


Data were collected from all consecutive isolated CABG surgery patients during the study period.


Crude and adjusted in-hospital mortality rates associated with CABG.


The overall crude in-hospital mortality rate for isolated CABG was 4.3%. The rate varied among centers (range, 3.1% to 6.3%) and among surgeons (range, 1.9% to 9.2%). Predictors of in-hospital mortality included increased age, female gender, small body surface area, greater comorbidity, reoperation, poorer cardiac function as indicated by a lower ejection fraction, increased left ventricular end diastolic pressure and emergent or urgent surgery. After adjusting for the effects of potentially confounding variables, substantial and statistically significant variability was observed among medical centers (P = .021) and among surgeons (P = .025).


We conclude that the observed differences in in-hospital mortality rates among institutions and among surgeons in northern New England are not solely the result of differences in case mix as described by these variables and may reflect differences in currently unknown aspects of patient care. Understanding this variation requires a detailed understanding of the processes of care.

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