Do surgeons with similar training perform cases with similar costs? 5 study insights

Jessica Kim Cohen -  

A study in Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma found a wide variation in surgical costs associated with the treatment of periarticular lower extremity injuries, even amongst surgeons with similar training.

The researchers analyzed 88 bimalleolar ankle and 46 bicondylar tibial plateau fractures treated by six fellowship-trained surgeons. They conducted a retrospective medical record review, considering the intraoperative material costs of these procedures and how they compared between surgeons.

 

Here's what you need to know:

 

1. The mean intraoperative material cost for a bimalleolar ankle fracture was $1,099; the median range was $598 to $784.

 

2. The least expensive surgeon's mean case cost for bimalleolar ankle fracture was $613; the most expensive surgeon's mean case cost was $2,243.

 

3. The mean intraoperative material cost for a bicondylar tibial plateau fracture was $3,219; the median range was $1,839 to $4,088.

 

4. The median range for bicondylar tibial plateau fracture was significantly wider than the median range for bimalleolar ankle fracture.

 

5. Factors that significantly increased cost included bone void fillers, locking plates, adjunctive external fixators, mini-fragment locking plates, cannulated screws, single-use taps, guidewires, and drill bits.

 

The researchers concluded, "this study demonstrated variation in intraoperative material cost between 6 traumatologists resulting from practice variations despite similar specialty training. The cost differences resulting from practice variation reveal potential savings through increased standardization of surgical care for similar injuries."

 

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