Objective: To determine whether postacute care (PAC) facilities can compensate for increased mortality stemming from a complicated postoperative recovery (complications or deconditioning).
Background: An increasing number of patients having cancer surgery rely on PAC facilities including skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers to help them recover from postoperative complications and the physical demands of surgery. It is currently unclear whether PAC can successfully compensate for the adverse consequences of a complicated postoperative recovery.
Methods: We combined data from the Veterans Affairs Cancer Registry with the Surgical Quality Improvement Program to identify veterans having surgery for stage I-III colorectal cancer from 1999 to 2010. We used propensity matching to control for comorbidity, functional status, postoperative complications, and stage.
Results: We evaluated 10,583 veterans having colorectal cancer surgery, and 765 veterans (7%) were discharged to PAC facilities whereas 9818 veterans (93%) were discharged home. Five-year overall survival after discharge to PAC facilities was 36% compared with 51% after discharge home. Stage I patients discharged to PAC facilities had similar survival (45%) as stage III patients who were discharged home (44%). Patients discharged to PAC facilities had worse survival in the first year after surgery (hazard ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.7–2.4) and after the first year (hazard ratio 1.4, 95% confidence interval 1.2–1.5).
Conclusions: Discharge to PAC facilities after cancer surgery is not sufficient to overcome the adverse survival effects of a complicated postoperative recovery. Improvement of perioperative care outside the acute hospital setting and development of better postoperative recovery programs for cancer patients are needed to enhance survival after surgery.
*Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
†Houston Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Houston, TX
‡Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
§Alkek Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
¶Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL.
Reprints: Daniel A. Anaya, MD, Section of Hepatobiliary Tumors, Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, 12902 Magnolia Drive, FOB 2, Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail: Daniel.Anaya@moffitt.org.
Disclosure: This work was funded by a Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Career Development Award (to D. A. A.) and based upon work supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development, Health Services Research and Development, Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (CIN 13–413). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Baylor College of Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology or the Conquer Cancer Foundation. Sources had no role in the preparation, review, or approval of the article. The authors had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.