When It Comes To Elective Surgery, Where You Live Matters
A new study finds wide regional variations in the treatment Medicare patients receive, especially regarding elective procedures.
Reuters: In Elective Surgery, U.S. Doctors In Regions Hold Sway
When it comes to elective surgery in the United States, where patients live and which doctors they see play a big role how they are treated, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. The study of elective procedures among patients over age 65 covered by Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, found wide regional differences in the way U.S. doctors treat patients, suggesting that patient preferences are often being ignored. For example, an elderly woman in Victoria, Texas, who has early breast cancer is seven times more likely to have a mastectomy than a woman living in Muncie, Indiana (Steenhuysen, 2/24).
Star Tribune: Minnesota's Elective Surgery Rates All Over Map
Minnesota has sharp variations in elective surgery rates from one place to another, according to a new report, with heart patients in Detroit Lakes twice as likely as others in the state to have arterial bypasses and men in Bemidji three times as likely to have enlarged prostates removed. The study, released Thursday by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, suggests that doctors may be neglecting patients' preferences and basing surgery decisions on other factors. Rates in small communities, for example, can swing based on the aggressiveness of one doctor. Some have more faith in surgery, while others might be motivated by profits from the procedures (Olson, 2/23).
Pioneer Press: Minnesota's Rate Of Five Surgeries Is Higher Than U.S. Average
The study by Dartmouth College researchers looked at 10 types of care where patients sometimes may opt for surgical or nonsurgical treatments. The greatest point of variation came in prostate cancer surgery, with patients in Minnesota using the procedures at a rate 70 percent higher than the national average. The St. Paul area - defined as much of Ramsey and Washington counties with a portion of Dakota County - was tied for the highest rate among some 121 hospital service areas in the state with a score that translated to about 35 extra prostate-cancer surgeries per year (Snowbeck, 2/23).