August 30, 2017

Costs vary widely for common surgical procedures

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

There is wide cost variation for five common surgical procedures in the US, this study finds.

Cost observed-to-expected ratios ranged widely:

  • 14.9-fold for colectomy
  • 5.5-fold for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
  • 12.5-fold for lung resection
  • 10.6-fold for total knee arthroplasty
  • 28.0-fold for cesarean section.

High-cost hospitals were more likely to serve minority and Medicaid patients, and mortality was significantly higher in high-cost hospitals for colectomy, CABG, and lung resection.

There was a significant association between greater procedure volume and low-cost hospitals for colectomy, CABG, and total knee arthroplasty.

Benchmarking costs may identify significant opportunities to promote value in surgical care in the US, the authors note.

Health care costs are an important policy focus in the United States. The magnitude and drivers of variation in the costs of common operative procedures are not well understood. We sought to characterize variation in costs across hospitals.

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