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Is there hospital variation in long-term incisional hernia repair after abdominal surgery?


Background Currently, hospital benchmarking organizations are often limited to short-term surgical quality comparisons among hospitals. The goal of this study was to determine whether long-term rates of incisional hernia repair after common abdominal operations could be used to compare hospital long-term surgical quality. Study Design This was a cohort study with up to 4 years of follow-up. Patients who underwent 1 of 5 common inpatient abdominal operations were identified in 2005-2008 American College of Surgeons NSQIP data linked to Medicare inpatient records. The main outcomes included occurrence of an incisional hernia repair. A multivariable, shared frailty Cox proportional hazards regression was used to compare each hospital's incisional hernia rate with the overall mean rate for all hospitals and control for American College of Surgeons NSQIP preoperative clinical variables. Results A total of 37,134 patients underwent 1 of 5 common inpatient abdominal operations, including colectomy, small bowel resection, ventral hernia repair, pancreatic resection, or cholecystectomy, at 1 of 216 hospitals participating in American College of Surgeons NSQIP during the 4-year period. There were 1,474 (4.0%) patients who underwent an incisional hernia repair, at a median follow-up time of 16 months (interquartile range 8 to 25 months) after initial abdominal surgery. After risk adjustment, there was no significant difference in the ratio of any one hospital's adjusted hazard rate for incisional hernia repair vs the average hospital adjusted hazard rate. Conclusions Risk-adjusted hospital rates of incisional hernia repair do not vary significantly from the average. This suggests that incisional hernia repair might not be sensitive enough as a long-term quality metric for benchmarking hospital performance.

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