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Ann Surg. 1985 Jul;202(1):119-25.

Surgonomics: the identifier concept. Hospital charges in general surgery and surgical specialties under prospective payment systems.


Surgical care is entering a new payment era for inhospital care using the diagnostic related group (DRG) mechanism for Medicare. A study at The Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center showed that a majority of its surgical DRGs would be unprofitable under the proposed reimbursement scheme. This study was undertaken to develop a method of allowing the hospital to group patients with each DRG that would show a difference in hospital charges and be clinically meaningful to surgeons. The study implementors tested the hypothesis that entities called identifiers, arbitrarily chosen as mode of admission [emergency (+ER vs. nonemergency (-ER)] and presence (+T) or absence (-T) of blood transfusion, would show a difference in charges (mean hospital charge exclusive of physician fees) within a DRG. Nine hundred five patients in nine DRGs encompassing general surgery, thoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, and head and neck surgery were studied. For ER identifier, eight of nine DRGs were found to be positive (greater than 20% difference in charges between positive and negative identifier); for T identifier, all DRGs (9) were positive. These findings demonstrate that these identifiers may enable teaching institutions to disaggregate each DRG and, in this way, propose more equitable reimbursement rates.

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