New cardiac hospitals often trigger sharp increases in the utilization of invasive and costly heart procedures to open up clogged arteries, including bypass surgeries and angioplasties, according to a study in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Heart hospitals costs
The researchers, led by a team from the University of Michigan, found that the rate of these procedures rises faster in areas where a specialty cardiac hospital opens as compared with areas where general hospitals deliver heart care. Nonemergency angioplasties rise the fastest among the Medicare beneficiaries who were included in the study, researchers discovered.
The study, which used Medicare data from 1995 to 2003, identified 13 hospital referral regions where 14 specialty cardiac hospitals opened during that period, offering bypass surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention, which includes angioplasty, stenting and related procedures.
Were not saying that specialty cardiac hospitals are bad, nor that they provided services inappropriately, says John Birkmeyer, a physician who is a professor of general surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-author of the study. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that patients treated there are more likely to be treated with invasive interventions than at general hospitals.
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