April 2, 2019

Low-value procedures associated with hospital-acquired complications

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

Patients admitted to the hospital for procedures that would not be expected to require admission (ie, low-value procedures) are being harmed, consuming additional hospital resources, and delaying care for patients for whom the services would be appropriate, this Australian study finds.

In this analysis of 9,330 episodes of use of seven low-value procedures, ranging from spinal fusions to knee arthroscopies, between 0.2% and 15.0% of patients developed at least one of 16 hospital-acquired complications (HACs), the most common being healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The highest rate of HAIs was 8.4% for renal artery angioplasty.

For all seven procedures, median length of stay for patients with HACs was two times or more the length of stay for those without HACs.

Further research should examine the consequences of providing low-value care, including the financial costs of the care and any subsequent admissions plus issues such as waiting lists being lengthened by including patients who are not expected to benefit, the researchers say.

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