Surgical outcomes vary across health systems with top hospitals, study finds

Surgical outcomes vary significantly across health systems that include some of the country's highest-rated hospitals, according to a study published March 13 in JAMA Surgery.

For the study, researchers examined Medicare data on 87 hospitals linked to one of 16 health systems that include a U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll hospital. Researchers looked at surgical records for 143,174 surgery patients who had either a colectomy, coronary artery bypass grafting or hip replacement between 2005-14, Reuters reports.

Honor Roll hospitals did not consistently demonstrate better surgical outcomes than affiliated hospitals. For example, they had lower failure to rescue rates than affiliated hospitals (13.1 percent compared to 15.1 percent) but higher complication rates (22.1 percent compared to 18 percent).

At some health systems, affiliated hospitals' failure to rescue rates differed from Honor Roll hospitals' by as little as 1.1-fold. However, in other systems the figures differed by as much as 4.9-fold. Complication rates had similar variations across health systems.

"Just because a hospital is affiliated with a really, really reputable hospital doesn't mean that it is delivering care on par with that Honor Roll hospital," Kyle Sheetz, MD, lead author and research fellow at the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy in Ann Arbor, told Reuters.

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