May 2—Surgical mortality for seven common low-risk procedures was equivalent between critical access hospitals (CAHs) and non-CAHs, according to a new study in JAMA Surgery. Of the eight procedures examined, the only exception was that Medicare beneficiaries undergoing hip fracture repair had a higher risk of in-hospital death in CAHs, which are a predominant source of care for many rural populations.

The study examined in-hospital mortality, prolonged length of stay, and total hospital costs for low-risk surgical procedures, including appendectomy, cholecystectomy, colorectal cancer resection, cesarean delivery, hysterectomy, knee replacement, hip replacement, and hip fracture repair.

Study results also showed that, despite shorter hospital stays, costs at CAHs were 9.9 percent to 30.1 percent higher than at non-CAHs for these procedures.

A prior JAMA study indicated that mortality rates of Medicare beneficiaries admitted to critical access and other acute care hospitals with heart attack, congestive heart failure, or pneumonia increased between 2002 and 2010, compared with a decrease at non-CAHs.

Publication Date: Thursday, May 02, 2013