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Invited Commentary
October 2017

Treating Perioperative Complications: Should Everyone Be This Expensive?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2The Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 3Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(10):959. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.1719

Surgical intuition and empirical evidence agree that patients who experience perioperative complications require more resources for their care than patients who have uncomplicated operations.1-4 It follows logically that efforts to eliminate surgical complications may reduce health care expenditures in addition to optimizing clinical outcomes. However, this is an elusive (albeit worthwhile) goal for many complex surgical procedures. Even the best hospitals and surgeons will continue to have complications at some rate.5 Therefore, improving the efficiency of managing these complications could be a practical, yet previously unexplored, cost-reduction strategy in surgery. Such an approach requires understanding specifically where higher costs are incurred when rescuing patients from complications.

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