Data from New York state suggests that physicians are not following a mantra of organizations like the Leapfrog Group that say physicians should perform a procedure many times to be proficient with it.
According to a new study of state health department statistics for 2001, many high-risk procedures are done by physicians who perform them only once or twice each year.
Reviewing the state data, the Center for Medical Consumers in New York City finds that physicians who perform just one or two procedures accounted for 65% of colonoscopies, 58% of coronary artery bypass surgeries, 43% of simple mastectomies, 41% of carotid endarterectomies, 39% of laproscopic cholecysectomies, 34% of hip replacements, 22% of total knee replacements and 20% of cataract surgeries.
The center says few states have such rich data and the New York numbers might be skewed by incorrect physician IDs, lack of data on outpatient procedures or inclusion of medical residents.
In any case, the center is urging hospitals to restrict credentials for high-risk procedures to doctors with high volumes.