Market shares for rural inpatient surgical services: where does the buck stop?

J Rural Health. Spring 1994;10(2):70-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.1994.tb00213.x.


Utilization of surgical services by rural citizens is poorly understood, and few data are available about rural hospitals' surgical market shares and their financial implications. Understanding these issues is particularly important in an era of financially stressed rural hospitals. In this study information about rural surgical providers and services was obtained through telephone interviews with administrators at Washington state's 42 rural hospitals. The Washington State Department of Health's Commission Hospital Abstract Recording System (CHARS) data were used to measure market shares and billed charges for rural surgical services. ZIP codes were used to assign rural residents to a hospital service area (HSA) of the nearest hospital, providing the geographic basis for market share calculations. "Total hospital expenses" from the American Hospital Association Guide were used as a proxy for hospital budget, and the surgical financial contribution was expressed as a ratio of billed surgical charges to total hospital expense. For rural hospitals as a whole, 21 percent of admissions and 43 percent of billed inpatient charges resulted from surgical services. In 1989, 27,202 rural Washington residents were hospitalized for surgery. Overall, 42 percent went to the closest rural hospital, 14 percent went to other rural hospitals, and 44 percent went to urban hospitals. The presence of surgical providers markedly increased local market shares, but a substantial proportion of basic surgical procedures bypassed available local services in favor of urban hospitals. For example, about one-third of patients needing cholecystectomies, a basic general surgery of low complexity, bypassed local hospitals with staff surgeons.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catchment Area, Health / economics
  • Catchment Area, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Economic Competition
  • Hospitals, Rural / classification
  • Hospitals, Rural / economics*
  • Hospitals, Rural / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Urban / economics
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Credit and Collection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Product Line Management / economics*
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / economics*
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Washington