Do spine surgeon demographics affect outcomes?

Written by Laura Dyrda | March 12, 2018 | Print  |

A new study published in Clinical Spine Surgery examines the factors predicting postoperative complication rates after elective spinal fusion.


The study authors focused on surgeon demographic factors to see which factors had an effect on decision-making. The researchers examined the CMS database with cases performed between 2011 and 2013, as well as the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard with cases performed from 2009 to 2013. There were 125,787 Medicare patients who underwent spinal surgery and met inclusion criteria for the study.


The surgeon factors examined — including private practice versus academic setting, type of medical degree, medical school location, sex or geographic practice region — were associated with higher or lower complication rates.


"Publicly available complication rates for individual spine surgeons are being utilized by hospital systems and patients to assess aptitude and gauge expectations," concluded the study authors. "The increasing demand for transparency will likely lead to emphasis of these statistics to improve outcomes."


However, the study authors did not find any demographic factors associated with better or worse outcomes.


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