Reuters reports on risky surgeries.

A new study looks at the likelihood of surviving a risky surgery in America. Some of the results might surprise you.

The survival chances of risky surgeries depend on a number of factors.

These factors include: the hospital, the surgeon and his/her experiences, facilities, and type of surgery being performed.

Experts say the chance of surviving any of four high-risk surgeries can vary by as much as 23 percent depending on what hospital patients use, according to an analysis.

“Rating hospitals has become somewhat of a free-for-all, with competing groups using different data and definitions of quality. Only 10 percent of the 844 hospitals rated highest by one rater were equally rated by even one of the others, found a study this month in Health Affairs,” according to Reuters.

How was the study conducted?

The analysis, which was done by the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, a patient-safety organization supported by large employers, (and Castlight Health Inc., which sells software for employers to manage healthcare spending - shows that choice of hospital) can actually mean the difference between living and dying.

Researchers asked 1,500 hospitals for 2013 information on four risky surgeries, including number of procedures and patient deaths. It fixed the numbers to come up with a predicted survival estimate for each.

For example, when it comes to a pancreatectomy (removing all or part of the pancreas, usually to treat cancer), the predicted survival rates ranged from 81 percent to 100 percent.

Reuters explains, “Of 487 hospitals reporting data, 203 had rates of at least 91.3 percent, which Leapfrog chose as the benchmark for quality. For esophagectomy (removing all or part of the esophagus), expected survival ranged from 88 percent to 98 percent. Only 182 of 535 hospitals had rates of at least 91.7 percent.”

For risky surgeries such as repairs of abdominal aortic aneurysm, survival ranged from 86 percent to 99 percent. The results showed that 268 of 792 hospitals met the benchmark of 97.3 percent. For exchanging the heart's aortic valve, survival ranged from 92 percent to 97 percent; only about one hundred of 544 hospitals hit 95.6 percent.

Was the study thorough enough?

The study did not look into which types of hospitals, nonprofit or for-profit, in one region or another, did well; but in overall those that performed more procedures did the best.

“National stalwarts such as Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, aced all four surgeries, but so did Hoag Memorial in Newport Beach, California, and Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey,” according to Reuters.

But not all risky surgeries are having bad outcomes.

Reuters also reports on a new type of surgery that has been going well. Experts started performing the Medtronic valve replacement surgery for heart patients a couple of years ago. New research shows that patients who got the surgery are doing well two years later. This is considered a major triumph in the field of cardiology as heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.  


Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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