September 7, 2023

Association of health professional shortages with surgical outcomes, expenditures

Editor's Note

This study from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, finds that Medicare patients having common surgical procedures in health professional shortage area hospitals obtain safe care without evidence of higher expenditures.

A total of 842,787 Medicare patients undergoing appendectomy, cholecystectomy, colectomy, or hernia repair between 2014 and 2018 in health professional shortage area hospitals were included in the analysis.

The researchers found that patients having surgery at shortage area hospitals had:

  • lower risk-adjusted rates of 30-day mortality (6.05% vs 6.69%) and readmission (14.99% vs 15.74%)
  • lower expenditures ($28,517 vs $29,685).

The researchers concluded that these findings should be taken into account when legislative proposals to increase funding for care in underserved communities are considered.


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