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The Impact of Interhospital Transfers on Surgical Quality Metrics for Academic Medical Centers

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The emergence of pay-for-performance systems pose a risk to an academic medical center's (AMC) mission to provide care for interhospital surgical transfer patients. This study examines quality metrics and resource consumption for a sample of these patients from the University Health System Consortium (UHC) and our Department of Surgery (DOS). Standard benchmarks, including mortality rate, length of stay (LOS), and cost, were used to evaluate the impact of interhospital surgical transfers versus direct admission (DA) patients from January 2010 to December 2012. For 1,423,893 patients, the case mix index for transfer patients was 38 per cent (UHC) and 21 per cent (DOS) greater than DA patients. Mortality rates were 5.70 per cent (UHC) and 6.93 per cent (DOS) in transferred patients compared with 1.79 per cent (UHC) and 2.93 per cent (DOS) for DA patients. Mean LOS for DA patients was 4 days shorter. Mean total costs for transferred patients were greater $13,613 (UHC) and $13,356 (DOS). Transfer patients have poorer outcomes and consume more resources than DA patients. Early recognition and transfer of complex surgical patients may improve patient rescue and decrease resource consumption. Surgeons at AMCs and in the community should develop collaborative programs that permit collective assessment and decision-making for complicated surgical patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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