Surgeon Volume Affects Costs in Pituitary Tumor Care

For patients with transsphenoidal pituitary tumors, hospital charges, costs, and length of stay are increased with lower-volume surgeons, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, held from May 2–6 in Washington, D.C.

Charles Lee, from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues conducted a surgeon volume-cost analysis on pituitary tumor surgery from 2008–2011. All patients underwent elective surgery and were discharged to home or self-care. The researchers compared hospital charges, costs, cost-to-charge ratios, and length of stay for surgeons who performed fewer than 20 cases per year versus those who performed 20 or more cases per year. Data were included for 1,803 transsphenoidal pituitary tumor surgeries.

The researchers found that for lower-volume surgeons, the median hospital charge was almost $20,000 higher and the median hospital cost was more than $5,000 higher. Lower-volume surgeons had a cost-to-charge ratio indicating higher inflation. Longer median length of stay was also seen for lower-volume surgeons, with patients treated by lower-volume surgeons needing one additional day in the hospital.

“The data suggests that patients with pituitary tumors (a highly portable disease) should be considered for referral to high-volume surgeons to promote high-value, effective care,” according to the AANS news release.

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