Background: The acute care surgery (ACS) model has been widely implemented with single institution studies demonstrating improved outcomes. Recent multicenter studies have raised questions about the economics and efficacy of ACS. This study compares traditional and ACS outcomes across an entire state.
Methods: A retrospective review of Virginia's Health Information administrative database was completed. Adults admitted with appendicitis or cholecystitis between 2008 and 2014 were included. Hospital administration was contacted to determine surgical model. To compare patient characteristics, t-test and chi-square analyses were used. Total charges and length of stay (LOS) differences between ACS and traditional were examined using generalized linear models, whereas logistic regression was used for the presence of complications and 30-day mortality.
Results: Overall, the ACS model showed an increased proportion of uninsured patients with a higher rate of comorbidities. In the appendicitis subgroup, (n = 22,011; ACS n = 1993), ACS patients had higher total charges ($30,060 versus $28,460, P = 0.013), longer LOS (3.31 versus 2.92 d, P < 0.001), and higher chance of complications (odds ratio [OR] = 1.2, P = 0.016) and mortality (OR = 2.4, P = 0.029). After adjustment for comorbidities and insurance, mortality was no longer significantly different. In the cholecystitis group (n = 6936; ACS n = 777), ACS patients had a longer LOS (4.55 versus 4.13 d; P = 0.009) without significant differences in mortality, complications, or cost. There were no significant differences after adjustment for patient characteristics.
Conclusions: ACS patients in Virginia have a higher rate of medical comorbidities and uninsured status, with slightly worse outcomes than the traditional model for appendicitis. Further studies to determine which patients benefit the most from ACS are warranted.
Keywords: Acute care surgery; Appendicitis; Cholecystitis; Cost effectiveness.
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