Background: Previous studies have found that hospitals at which more procedures, such as coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) and other vascular surgery, are performed have lower rates of mortality related to these procedures than hospitals where fewer such procedures are performed.
Methods: We examined the relation between the number of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) procedures performed at hospitals (volume) and short-term mortality in a population of 217,836 Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age or older who underwent angioplasty in the United States from 1987 through 1990.
Results: The unadjusted in-hospital mortality among patients who underwent PTCA increased from 2.5 percent among the 10 percent of patients treated in hospitals with the highest volume of such procedures to 3.9 percent among the 10 percent of patients treated in hospitals with the lowest volume. The rate of bypass surgery after PTCA also increased, from 2.8 percent among patients in the highest-volume hospitals to 5.3 percent among those in the lowest-volume hospitals. Higher rates of mortality and CABG persisted in all the groups of patients treated in hospitals that performed fewer than 100 angioplasty procedures per year in Medicare beneficiaries; this volume in Medicare beneficiaries can be extrapolated to an overall annual volume of 200 to 400 angioplasty procedures. In a logistic-regression model, the volume of PTCA procedures at a hospital was found to be a highly significant predictor of in-hospital mortality (P < 0.001). These results suggest that if the hospitals with the lowest volume had achieved the experience and technical results of the highest-volume hospitals, 381 fewer patients would have undergone CABG and there would have been 300 fewer in-hospital deaths in the population we studied.
Conclusions: Hospitals that perform more PTCA procedures have lower short-term mortality rates after the procedure. These data provide evidence in support of the regionalization of angioplasty services.