Hospital-level variation has been found to influence outcomes in emergency general surgery. However, whether the individual surgeon plays a role in this variation is unknown.
We performed an analysis of the Florida State Inpatient Database (2010–2014), which is linked to the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey Database, including patients who emergently underwent 1 or more of 7 procedures (laparotomy, adhesiolysis, small bowel resection, colectomy, repair of a perforated gastric ulcer, appendectomy, or cholecystectomy). We used multilevel random effects modeling to quantify the amount of variation in mortality, complications, and 30-day readmissions attributable to surgeons. Patient clinical and demographic factors, as well as hospital-level factors, were introduced into the model in a forward stepwise fashion, and the percent of the variation attributable to surgeons was derived.
Our study included 2,149 surgeons across 224 hospitals, with a total of 569,767 emergency general surgery cases. The overall unadjusted mortality rate was 3.8%, and the complication and readmission rates were 12.7% and 27.7%, respectively. Surgeon-level variation had the greatest impact on mortality, explaining 32.77% of the overall variability in mortality risk compared with 0.08% and 2.28% for complications and readmissions, respectively. Peptic ulcer disease operations were most susceptible to surgeon-level variation in mortality and readmissions, whereas appendectomies and cholecystectomies were least susceptible to surgeon-level variation for all outcomes.
Surgeon-level variation contributes to a significant portion of mortality in EGS. This variation is most pronounced in surgery for peptic ulcer disease, a high-risk, low-frequency surgical condition. Programs to reduce mortality in emergency general surgery should address reducing variability in practice with attention to high-risk, low-frequency procedures.
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Published online: August 30, 2018
Accepted: July 9, 2018
Received in revised form: July 7, 2018
Received: April 30, 2018
This work was presented at the 89th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Pacific Coast Surgical Association on February 17, 2018, in Napa, CA.
© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.