Indexed on: 14 Oct '04Published on: 14 Oct '04Published in: JAMA
Minimum procedure volume thresholds have been proposed to improve outcomes among patients undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). How regionalization policies would affect patient travel distances is not known.To examine the effect of regionalization of PTCA on patient travel distances.A retrospective cohort study of discharge records, which were examined to determine hospital and operator procedure volumes, of 97,401 patients undergoing PTCA in New York, New Jersey, and Florida in 2001. Travel distances were measured at baseline and under 2 regionalization scenarios in which hospital-operator pairs not meeting minimum volume standards stopped providing services.Observed and expected patient travel distances, and risk-adjusted mortality.With a minimum volume standard of 175 per operator and 400 per hospital (class 1), 25% of patients had a shorter travel distance, 10% had a longer travel distance, and 65% experienced no change. Most patients with longer travel distances under this standard would travel no more than 25 miles farther, and most patients with shorter travel distances would save no more than 10 miles. With a minimum volume standard of 75 per operator and 400 per hospital (class 2), 11% of patients had a shorter travel distance, 2% had a longer travel distance, and 87% experienced no change. Under both standards, less than 1% of patients would travel more than 50 miles farther than their observed travel distance. Risk-adjusted mortality was higher for lower-volume hospital-operator pairs (1.2% for class 3 vs 0.9% for class 2 and 0.8% for class 1; P<.001 for both comparisons).Regionalization of PTCA would not increase travel distance for most patients; however, potential costs of regionalization not related to travel must be examined before such policies can be recommended.