Pre-Surgery Exam Rates Vary Widely Among Hospitals

Hospitals vary significantly in the number of patients who consult with an internal medicine specialist before major surgery, according to a Health Canal report.

Rates of pre-surgery exams vary from 5 percent of patients to 90 percent, according to research from scientists at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

Because of the discrepancy in the number of exams, some patients may be receiving expensive tests and exams they don't need, while others who do need the tests may not be receiving them, according to the report. The researchers studied the records of 205,000 patients who underwent major elective non-cardiac surgery in 79 hospitals in Ontario from 2004-2009.

One-third of the patients studied underwent a pre-operative medical consultation. Most of those patients were older, were patients at teaching hospitals or hospitals with high surgical volumes or had other, pre-existing conditions such as heart disease.

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