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Invited Commentary
July 2013

Taking a Broader Perspective on the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, New York, New York
JAMA Surg. 2013;148(7):648. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.160

Although the clinical benefits of minimally invasive surgery are well known, the study by Epstein et al1 in this issue of JAMA Surgery provides a much broader perspective. Traditional clinical research asks a relatively narrow but important question: “Is this procedure better for this patient?” Dr Epstein, a health economist at the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues instead ask the question, “Is the trend toward less invasive procedures better for society?” The answers to these two questions are not necessarily the same. Less invasive procedures could provide clinical benefits to patients but increase the costs to society. Indeed, in most industries outside health care, higher quality costs more.

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