Background. Worse operative mortality has been reported for hospitals with low versus high coronary artery bypass grafting surgery volumes. Despite a lack of comparisons beyond the early postoperative period and evidence of surgeon-volume confounding, some have suggested that regionalization of coronary artery bypass grafting in favor of high volume institutions is warranted. Methods. We retrospectively compared operative mortality and 3-year survival in coronary artery bypass grafting patients (2001 to 2003) at a low-volume hospital (n = 504; 160 per year [median]) versus a high-volume hospital (n = 1,410; 487 per year) served by the same high-volume surgeon team. Covariate risk adjustment was done via multivariate and propensity modeling. Results. The two hospital cohorts exhibited multiple demographic and risk factor differences. Unadjusted low-volume hospital vs high-volume hospital operative mortality was similar overall (2.38% vs 2.98%; p = 0.59) with nearly identical Society of Thoracic Surgeons observed-to-expected ratios (0.83 vs 0.82), irrespective of preoperative risk category. Hospital volume did not predict operative mortality (odds ratio, 95% confidence interval = 0.82; p = 0.602). At follow-up, a total of 28 low-volume hospital deaths (5.6%) and 135 high-volume hospital deaths (9.6%) occurred at similar surgery-to-death intervals (p = 0.7). Unadjusted 0 to 3-year survival was significantly worse for high-volume hospitals (risk ratio = 1.59; 1.06 to 2.39; p = 0.026). Yet procedure volume was not independently associated with worse midterm survival after covariate (risk ratio = 1.28; 0.84 to 1.96; p = 0.247) or propensity score (risk ratio = 1.11; 0.72 to 1.71; p = 0.648) adjustment. Conclusions. Hospital and surgeon volume effects on coronary artery bypass grafting outcomes are interdependent, and therefore hospital coronary artery bypass grafting volume per se is not a reliable marker of quality. Instead, outcome quality markers should rely on thorough risk-adjustment based on detailed clinical databases, possibly including annual and cumulative surgeon volume. © 2005 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
Zacharias, A., Schwann, T. A., Riordan, C. J., Durham, S. J., Shah, A., Papadimos, T. J., … Habib, R. H. (2005). Is hospital procedure volume a reliable marker of quality for coronary artery bypass surgery? A comparison of risk and propensity adjusted operative and midterm outcomes. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 79(6), 1961–1969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2004.12.002