Influence of Surgeon Experience, Hospital Volume, and Specialty Designation on Outcomes in Pediatric Surgery A Systematic Review

JAMA pediatrics 03/2013; 167(5):1-8. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.25
Source: PubMed


IMPORTANCE Analyses of volume-outcome relationships in adult surgery have found that hospital and physician characteristics affect patient outcomes, such as length of stay, hospital charges, complications, and mortality. Similar investigations in children's surgical specialties are fewer in number, and their conclusions are less clear. OBJECTIVE To review the evidence regarding surgeon or hospital experience and their influence on outcomes in children's surgery. EVIDENCE REVIEW A MEDLINE and EMBASE search was conducted for English-language studies published from January 1, 1980, through April 13, 2012. Titles and abstracts were screened in a standardized manner by 2 reviewers. Studies selected for inclusion had to use a measure of hospital or surgeon experience as a predictor variable and had to report postoperative outcomes as dependent response variables. Included studies were reviewed with regard to methodologic quality, and study results were extracted. FINDINGS Sixty-three studies were reviewed. Significant heterogeneity was detected in exposure definitions, outcome measures, and risk adjustment, with the greatest heterogeneity seen in appendectomy studies. Various exposure levels were examined: hospital level in 48 (68%) studies, surgeon level in 11 (17%), and both in 9 (14%). Nineteen percent of studies did not adjust for confounding, and 57% did not adjust for sample clustering. The most consistent methods and reproducible results were seen in the pediatric cardiac surgical literature. Forty-nine studies (78%) showed positive correlation between experience and most primary outcomes, but differences in outcomes and exposure definitions made comparisons between studies difficult. In general, hospital-level factors tended to correlate with outcomes for high-complexity procedures, whereas surgeon-level factors tended to correlate with outcomes for more common procedures. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Data on experience-related outcomes in children's surgery are limited in number and vary widely in methodologic quality. Future studies should seek both to standardize definitions, making results more applicable, and to differentiate procedures affected by surgeon experience from those more affected by hospital resources and system-level variables.

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    • "The first step to achieve these objectives is to review the current state of the literature in pediatric surgery addressing the relationship between outcomes and volume as well as outcomes and access to pediatric specific expertise. McAteer and colleagues recently performed an extensive search of the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases to address this question and identified 63 articles in 7 pediatric surgical subspecialties, evaluating 25 distinct surgical procedures [10]. Because of the heterogeneity of the methodology, a meta-analysis was not feasible. "
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    ABSTRACT: The United States’ healthcare system is facing unprecedented pressures: the healthcare cost curve is not sustainable while the bar of standards and expectations for the quality of care continues to rise. Systems committed to the surgical treatment of children will likely require changes and reorganization. Regardless of these mounting pressures, hospitals must remain focused on providing the best possible care to each child at every encounter. Available clinical expertise and hospital resources should be optimized to match the complexity of the treated condition. Although precise criteria are lacking, there is a growing consensus that the optimal combination of clinical experience and hospital resources must be defined, and efforts toward this goal have been supported by the Regents of the American College of Surgeons, the members of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, and the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) Board of Directors. The topic of optimizing outcomes and the discussion of the concepts involved has unfortunately become divisive. Our goal, therefore, is 1) to provide a review of the literature that can provide context for the discussion of regionalization, volume, and optimal resources and promote mutual understanding of these important terms, 2) to review the evidence that has been published to date in pediatric surgery associated with regionalization, volume, and resource, 3) to focus on a specific resource (anesthesia), and the association that this may have with outcomes, and 4) to provide a framework for future research and policy efforts.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Journal of Pediatric Surgery

  • No preview · Article · Mar 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Little data exists on temporal changes in the care of children with common surgical conditions. We hypothesized that an increasing proportion of procedures are performed at pediatric hospitals over time, and that outcomes are superior at these centers. We conducted a retrospective cohort study using Washington State discharge records for children 0-17years old undergoing appendectomy (n=39,472) or pyloromyotomy (n=3,500). Pediatric hospitals were defined as centers with full-time pediatric surgeons. Outcomes were examined for two time periods (1987-2000, 2001-2009). From 1987 to 2009, the proportion of procedures performed at pediatric hospitals steadily increased. The percentage for appendectomies increased from 17% to 32%, and that for pyloromyotomies increased from 57% to 99%. For pyloromyotomy, care at a pediatric hospital was associated with decreased risk of postoperative complications (OR=0.36, p<0.001) for both time periods. Appendectomy outcomes did not differ significantly in the early time period, but in the later time period specialist care was associated with lower risk of complications in children <5years (OR=0.54, p=0.03). There has been a shift towards pediatric hospitals for certain procedures, with a widening disparity in outcomes for younger children. These results suggest that procedures in younger patients may best be performed by providers familiar with these patient populations.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of Pediatric Surgery
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