Recent studies have demonstrated the relationship between clinical outcomes of complex surgical procedures and provider volume. Hepatic resection is one such high-risk surgical procedure. The aim of this analysis was to determine whether mortality and cost of performing hepatic resection are related to surgical volume while also examining outcomes by extent of resection and diagnosis, variables seen with this procedure. Maryland discharge data were used to study surgical volume, length of stay, charges, and mortality for 606 liver resections performed at all acute-care hospitals between January 1990 and June 1996. One high-volume provider accounted for 43.6% of discharges, averaging 40.6 cases per year. In comparison, the remainder of resections were performed at 35 other hospitals, averaging 1.5 cases per year. Data were stratified into these high- and low-volume groups, and adjusted outcomes were compared. The mortality rate for all procedures in the low-volume group was 7.9% compared to 1.5% for the high-volume provider (P <0.01, relative risk = 5.2). No overall differences were observed between low- and high-volume providers in total hospital charges. When analyzing by procedure type and diagnosis, lower mortality was seen in the high-volume center for both minor and major resections, as well as resections for metastatic disease. It was concluded that hepatic resection can be performed more safely and at comparable cost at high-volume referral centers.
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