Length of hospital stay after uncomplicated esophagectomy. Hospital variation shows room for nationwide improvement

on behalf of the Dutch Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Audit Group

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Background: Within the scope of value-based health care, this study aimed to analyze Dutch hospital performance in terms of length of hospital stay after esophageal cancer surgery and its association with 30-day readmission rates. Since both parameters are influenced by the occurrence of complications, this study only included patients with an uneventful recovery after esophagectomy. Methods: All patients registered in the Dutch Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Audit (DUCA) who underwent a potentially curative esophagectomy between 2015 and 2018 were considered for inclusion. Patients were excluded in case of an intraoperative/post-operative complication, readmission to the intensive care unit, or any re-intervention. Length of hospital stay was dichotomized around the national median into ‘short admissions’ and ‘long admissions’. Hospital variation was evaluated using a case-mix-corrected funnel plot based on multivariable logistic regression analyses. Association of length of hospital stay with 30-day readmission rates was investigated using the χ2-statistic. Results: A total of 1007 patients was included. National median length of hospital stay was 9 days, ranging from 6.5 to 12.5 days among 17 hospitals. The percentage of ‘short admissions’ per hospital ranged from 7.7 to 93.5%. After correction for case-mix variables, 3 hospitals had significantly higher ‘short admission’ rates and 4 hospitals had significantly lower ‘short admission’ rates. Overall, 6.2% [hospital variation (0.0–13.2%)] of patients were readmitted. Hospital 30-day readmission rates were not significantly different between patients with a short length of hospital stay and those with a long length of hospital stay (5.5% versus 7.6%; p = 0.19). Conclusions: Based on these nationwide audit data, median length of hospital stay after an uncomplicated esophagectomy was 9 days ranging from 6.5 to 12.5 days among Dutch hospitals. There was no association between length of hospital stay and readmission rates. Nationwide improvement might lead to a substantial reduction of hospital costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6344-6357
Number of pages14
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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