Good news for Medicare patients undergoing complex surgical procedures! A new study reveals that the survival rate for those on Medicare undergoing one of eight high-risk operations has risen dramatically!
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted by looking at hospital records ranging from 1999-2008. Researchers found that in particular, those undergoing surgery to repair abdominal aortic aneurysms (or AAA) saw the sharpest decline in mortality with a death rate dropping 36% from 4.4 percent in 99-00 to 2.8 percent in 2007.
An AAA surgery is a particularly complex procedure in which doctors treat “a localized dilatation (ballooning) of the abdominal aorta exceeding the normal diameter by more than 50 percent ” causing patients “excruciating pain of the lower back, flank, abdomen and groin.” Ouch. If you recall, Bob Dole had this same procedure done in 2001.
Also seeing a steep incline in survival rates are surgeries for “treat cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, lung and bladder, and among those who had had coronary artery bypass grafting, aortic valve replacement and carotid endarterectomy.”
Researchers believe the decline in mortality rates is due to the fact that fewer hospitals are performing these procedures and those that are featured a highly trained and specialized staff with more experience dealing with such high-risk patients.
Overall the study concludes that some 2,000 more lives are saved through an emphasis on patient safety and specialization.