Anesthesiologists affect patient outcomes at rates similar to surgeons — 3 study insights

A study presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' 2016 annual meeting, held from Oct. 22 to 26, 2016, in Chicago, claims anesthesiologists have the same effect on patient outcomes as surgeons, Anesthesia News reports.

Sachin Kheterpal, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan, analyzed 1 million Medicare Provider Analysis and Review files for vascular, cardiac and colorectal operations between 2010 and 2013. They then linked the files to Part B claims identifying surgeons and anesthesiologists by codes.

The researchers analyzed 30-day all-cause mortality or anesthesia-related morbidity data in a total of 168,715 AAA repairs, 434,874 CABG surgeries and 437,846 colectomies.

Here's what they found.

1. The 30-day combined mortality/morbidity rate was 22 percent for AAA repairs, 44 percent for CABG surgeries and 14 percent for colectomies.

2. Anesthesiologists' intraclass correlation ranged from 3.1 percent to 4.5 percent across procedures.

3. Surgeons' intraclass correlation was between 4.2 percent and 5.2 percent.

Dr. Kheterpal concluded that although the impact of surgeons and anesthesiologists was about equal, the study had a limited scope.

He said to AN, "Do we matter? The answer is complex. Either way, I think this reopens the debate regarding our value. In the future, we can study more procedure types, different patient types and dive into the clinical variation underneath it all."

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