To evaluate changes in treatment and outcomes of esophagogastric cancer surgery after introduction of the DUCA. In addition, the presence of risk-averse behavior was assessed.
Summary of Background Data:
Clinical auditing is seen as an important quality improvement tool; however, its long-term efficacy remains largely unknown. In addition, critics claim that enhancements result from risk-averse behavior rather than positive effects of auditing.
DUCA data were used from registration start (1-1-2011) until 31-12-2018. Trends in patient, tumor, hospital and treatment characteristics were univariably assessed. Trends in short-term outcomes were investigated using multilevel multivariable logistic regression. Presence of risk aversion was described by the corrected proportion of patients undergoing surgery, using data from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. To evaluate the impact of centralization on time trends identified, the association between hospital volume and outcomes was investigated.
This study included 6172 patients with esophageal and 3,690 with gastric cancer who underwent surgery. Pathological outcomes (lymph node yield, radicality) improved and futile surgery decreased over the years. In-hospital/30-day mortality decreased for esophagectomy (4.2% to 2.5%) and for gastrectomy (7.1% to 4.3%). Reinterventions, (minor) complications and readmissions increased. Risk aversion appeared absent. Between 2011-2018, annual median hospital volumes increased from 38 to 53 for esophagectomy and from 14 to 29 for gastrectomy. Higher hospital volumes were associated with several improved outcomes measures.
During 8 years of auditing, outcomes improved, with no signs of risk-averse behavior. These improvements occurred in parallel with centralization. Feedback on postoperative complications remains the focus of the DUCA.