Majority of U.S. hospitals do not meet minimum volume standard for high-risk surgeries: Leapfrog

The majority of U.S. hospitals are not meeting minimum hospital or surgeon volume standards when it comes to performing high-risk surgical procedures, according to a new report from The Leapfrog Group.

With guidance from scientific advisers at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Leapfrog experts examined data from about 1,300 hospitals that voluntarily submitted their data to Leapfrog and had performed at least one high-risk procedure in 2018. They looked at eight high-risk procedures including bariatric surgery, three heart surgery procedures and four cancer procedures.

Of the eight high-risk procedures, the report found fewer than 3% of hospitals met a minimum volume standard when it came to the number of open abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs or esophageal resections for cancer they performed. For five of the eight procedures, no rural hospitals are fully meeting Leapfrog’s volume standard.

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There was one standout of the group: bariatric surgery. Of the eight procedures, hospitals were most likely to meet the safety standard for bariatric surgery for weight loss (38%). Of those hospitals that performed the procedure, 44% said they had an appropriateness standard. That may be because payers are more likely to require certain standards linked to the weight loss surgery, officials said.