Report Examines Cancer Surgeries in California Hospitals

report released last week looked at 11 types of cancer surgeries and reviewed how often they were performed at hospitals across California. In general, hospitals performing a higher volume of some of those kinds of surgeries have better outcomes, so patients could potentially use the new information to find hospitals that do more of those surgeries.

The report was released by California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline.

“Despite the staggering number of Californians who are diagnosed with cancer each year,” the report said, “there is very little information to guide patient decision-making about where to get care.”

In 2014, the report said, there were 155,920 new cases of cancer diagnosed in California. It looked at 11 kinds of cancer — bladder, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, rectum and stomach cancer — and found that most hospitals in California rarely operated on some of those cancers.

The report found that:

  • The majority of California’s hospitals performed surgery for one or more of these 11 cancers only once or twice in 2014;
  • Cancer patients who had surgery at a hospital that did a small number of those surgeries were actually relatively close to a hospital that performed a larger volume of those surgeries. More than 70% of those patients were within 50 miles of a higher-volume hospital; and
  • There were 249 hospitals across the state that performed one or two of a particular procedure in 2014, mostly in urban areas.

“For decades research has shown that hospitals performing a low volume of surgeries are more likely to have worse patient outcomes — more complications and deaths — than hospitals with higher volumes of surgeries,” the report said.

But data on which hospitals performed a low number of cancer surgeries has been lacking until now. The new information was culled from data released by the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

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