NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Superior Outcomes When Medicine Is Specialized

July 15, 2002

A growing body of research confirms that when doctors and hospitals do more of a specific procedure they do it better. The conclusion is for candidates for surgery or care for a specific ailment to go to a "high-volume" medical provider.

  • A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April found that hospitals that perform a high volume of 14 common surgical procedures had death rates lower than those of hospitals that performed low volumes of the same procedure.
  • A similar study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year showed that heart attack victims treated by doctors with a high volume of similar patients were more likely to be alive a year later.
  • Experts advise patients wanting volume data to ask for it.
  • While it isn't publicized , doctors and hospitals have such data readily available.

The problem seems to be that many hospitals are competing with one another by attempting to do everything their rivals are doing -- rather than concentrating on the procedures, treatments and services they do best.

Source: Charles Inlander (People's Medical Society of Allentown, Pa.,) and Steven Findlay (health-care analyst), "High-Volume Medical Care Provides Best Results," USA Today, July 15, 2002


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