Hospital survival rates for high-risk surgery vary widely: watchdog group

March 12, 2015
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
The variation between U.S. hospitals for survival from four high-risk procedures is significantly wide, says a new report.

This could mean the choice of institution could be a life-or-death decision for a patient, according to new findings from nonprofit hospital watchdog The Leapfrog Group entitled “Predicting Patient Survival of High-Risk Surgeries”. The results were analyzed by Castlight Health.

The survey “clearly demonstrates that the choice of hospital is one of the most important decisions a patient can make,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. “This report also provides a call to action for hospitals, who must continue to work toward better and more consistent surgical outcomes.” The findings were based on data taken from the 2014 Leapfrog Hospital Survey of 1,501 U.S. hospitals, and analyzed by Castlight Health.

The group looked at four surgeries and found that the following percentages of hospitals surveyed met its standards: 42 percent met standards for a pancreatectomy, 30 percent for an esophagectomy or repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and 17 percent for replacement of the aortic valve.

Key findings also included:

— Pancreatectomy: The removal of all or part of the pancreas had the most significant variance in survival rate by hospital, at 19 percent. Predicted survival rates range from 81 to 100 percent.

— Esophagectomy: The removal of all or part of the esophagus had an average survival rate of 90 percent with a variation by hospital of 88 to 98 percent.

— AAA repair: This surgery that treats an enlarged abdominal aorta had a 13 percent variation in predicted survival rates, from 85.7 to 98.9 percent.

“Beyond the devastating personal and emotional toll of a poor outcome on patients and providers, there is the notable financial burden on the U.S. health care system when less-than-optimal care is delivered. By every measure, these findings warrant attention and immediate action,” stressed Dr. Jennifer Schneider, chief medical officer for Castlight Health.