Outpatient surgery centers draw cases away from hospitals, impact resident training volume.

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PURPOSE: Across the United States, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are increasing in both number and surgical volume. This trend has been the focus of debate regarding reimbursement and patient safety, as well as surgical productivity and efficiency. However, the impact on surgical resident training caused by this shift toward outpatient surgery in nonhospital settings has not been studied. We reviewed data reported by our hospital and by local surgery centers as well as the case logs of the surgical residents at our institution to determine whether a negative effect on resident case volume has occurred.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of our PGY-1 through PGY-3 level surgical residents' case logs for 3 consecutive academic years, from July 2004 through June 2007. We evaluated a group of common outpatient procedures that are now also being performed in stand-alone surgical centers in our area, such as breast biopsies, incision and drainage, hernia repair, colonoscopy, and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). The data were tallied by academic year and compared over time. In addition, we analyzed data reported to state agencies by our hospital and local surgery centers over the last 6 calendar years for any trends in case volume. By evaluating 2 different independent data sets for the same endpoint, we could evaluate our hypothesis twice.

RESULTS: When evaluating state-reported data for the defined cases, a significant decrease was observed in the total number of cases performed at Easton Hospital, Easton, Pennsylvania, each year between 2003 and 2006 (p < 0.0001). When reported cases by procedure category for 2003 versus 2005 only (because of incomplete data from ASCs in 2004 and 2006), a significant decrease was observed as well for certain specific procedures as follows: colonoscopy (p < 0.0001), inguinal/femoral hernia (p = 0.04), excision of skin lesion (p = 0.0022), and incision/drainage (p < 0.0001). When comparing resident reported data, significant decreases were observed in the number of hemorrhoidectomies, breast biopsies, skin grafts, carpal tunnel releases, and excision of skin lesions performed by residents during each academic year from July 2004 to June 2007.

CONCLUSIONS: Our residents historically have gained all of their outpatient surgery experience from procedures performed at our home institution. With the recent surge of stand-alone surgical centers, many outpatient procedures are being performed outside of the hospital in centers where our residents do not rotate. Although current residents in our program are performing enough cases to fulfill the ACGME required minimums, the number of cases is significantly decreased because of cases performed by stand-alone surgical centers.





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Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Medical Specialties | Surgery




Department of Surgery, Department of Surgery Faculty

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