Article

The Volume-Outcome Relationship: From Luft to Leapfrog

Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Massachusetts 01805, USA.
The Annals of Thoracic Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.63). 04/2003; 75(3):1048-58. DOI: 10.1016/S0003-4975(02)04308-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Numerous reports have documented a volume-outcome relationship for complex medical and surgical care, although many such studies are compromised by the use of discharge abstract data, inadequate risk adjustment, and problematic statistical methodology. Because of the volume-outcome association, and because valid outcome measurements are unavailable for many procedures, volume-based referral strategies have been advocated as an alternative approach to health-care quality improvement. This is most appropriate for procedures with the greatest outcome variability between low-volume and high-volume providers, such as esophagectomy and pancreatectomy, and for particularly high-risk subgroups of patients. Whenever possible, risk-adjusted outcome data should supplement or supplant volume standards, and continuous quality improvement programs should seek to emulate the processes of high-volume, high-quality providers. The Leapfrog Group has established a minimum volume requirement of 500 procedures for coronary artery bypass grafting. In view of the questionable basis for this recommendation, we suggest that it be reevaluated.

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