Background: Safety-net hospitals provide essential services to vulnerable patients with complex medical and socioeconomic circumstances. We hypothesized that matched patients at safety-net hospitals and non-safety-net hospitals would have comparable outcomes, costs, and readmission rates after isolated surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR) or mitral valve replacement (MVR).
Methods: The National Readmissions Database was queried to identify patients who underwent isolated AVR (n = 109 744) or MVR (n = 31 475) from 2016 to 2018. Safety-net burden was defined as the percentage of patients who were uninsured or insured with Medicaid, with hospitals in the top quartile designated as safety-net hospitals. After propensity score matching, outcomes for AVR and MVR at safety-net hospitals vs non-safety-net hospitals were compared.
Results: Overall, 17 925 AVRs (16%) and 5516 MVRs (18%) were performed at safety-net hospitals, and these patients had higher comorbidity rates, had lower socioeconomic status, and more frequently required urgent surgery. Observed inhospital mortality was similar between safety-net hospitals and non-safety-net hospitals (AVR 2.2% vs 2.1%, P = .4; MVR 4.8% vs 4.3%, P = .1). After matching, rates of inhospital mortality, major morbidity, and readmission were similar; however, safety-net hospitals had longer length of stay after AVR (7 vs 6 days, P = .001) and higher total cost after AVR ($49 015 vs $42 473, P < .001) and MVR ($59 253 vs $52 392, P < .001).
Conclusions: Isolated surgical AVR and MVR are both performed at safety-net hospitals with outcomes comparable to those at non-safety-net hospitals, supporting efforts to expand access to these procedures for underserved populations. Investment in care coordination resources to reduce length of stay and curtail cost at safety-net hospitals is warranted.
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