To examine access to high-volume surgeons in comparison with low-volume surgeons who perform hysterectomies within high-volume hospitals and to compare perioperative morbidity and mortality between high-volume and low-volume surgeons within these centers.
Women who underwent hysterectomy in New York State between 2000 and 2014 at a high-volume (top quartile by volume) hospital were included. Surgeons were classified into quartiles based on average annual hysterectomy volume. Multivariable models were used to determine characteristics associated with treatment by a low-volume surgeon in comparison with a high-volume surgeon and to estimate the association between physician volume, and morbidity and mortality.
A total of 300,586 patients cared for by 5,505 surgeons at 59 hospitals were identified. Women treated by low-volume surgeons, in comparison with high-volume surgeons, were more often Black (19.4% vs 14.3%; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.26; 95% CI 1.09–1.46) and had Medicare insurance (20.6% vs 14.5%; aOR 1.22; 95% CI 1.04–1.42). Low-volume surgeons were more likely to perform both emergent–urgent procedures (26.1% vs 6.4%; aOR 3.91; 95% CI 3.26–4.69) and abdominal hysterectomy, compared with minimally invasive hysterectomy (77.8% vs 54.7%; aOR 1.91; 95% CI 1.62–2.24). Compared with patients cared for by high-volume surgeons, those operated on by low-volume surgeons had increased risk of a complication (31.0% vs 10.3%; adjusted risk ratios [aRR] 1.84; 95% CI 1.71–1.98) and mortality (2.2% vs 0.2%; aRR 3.04; 95% CI 2.20–4.21). In sensitivity analyses, differences in morbidity and mortality remained for emergent–urgent procedures, elective operations, cancer surgery, and noncancer procedures.
Socioeconomic disparities remain in access to high-volume surgeons within high-volume hospitals for hysterectomy. Patients who undergo hysterectomy at a high-volume hospital by a low-volume surgeon are at substantially greater risk for perioperative morbidity and mortality.