Patient, Surgeon, or Hospital: Explaining Variation in Outcomes after Colectomy : Journal of the American College of Surgeons

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Patient, Surgeon, or Hospital: Explaining Variation in Outcomes after Colectomy

Bamdad, Michaela C MD, MHS; Brown, Craig S MD, MS; Kamdar, Neil MA; Weng, Wenjing MS; Englesbe, Michael J MD, FACS; Lussiez, Alisha MD

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Journal of the American College of Surgeons 234(3):p 300-309, March 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/XCS.0000000000000063
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Complication rates after colectomy remain high. Previous work has failed to establish the relative contribution of patient comorbidities, surgeon performance, and hospital systems in the development of complications after elective colectomy.


We identified all patients undergoing elective colectomy between 2012 and 2018 at hospitals participating in the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative. The primary outcome was development of a postoperative complication. We used risk- and reliability-adjusted generalized linear mixed models to estimate the degree to which variance in patient-, surgeon-, and hospital-level factors contribute to complications.


A total of 15,755 patients were included in the study. The mean hospital-level complication rate was 15.8% (range, 8.7% to 30.2%). The proportion of variance attributable to the patient level was 35.0%, 2.4% was attributable to the surgeon level, and 1.8% was attributable to the hospital level. The predicted probability of complication for the least comorbid patient was 1.5% (CI 0.7–3.1%) at the highest performing hospital with the highest performing surgeon, and 6.6% (CI 3.2–12.2%) at the lowest performing hospital with the lowest performing surgeon. By contrast, the most comorbid patient in the cohort had a 66.3% (CI 39.5–85.6%) or 89.4% (CI 73.7–96.2%) risk of complication.


This study demonstrated that variance from measured factors at the patient level contributed more than 8-fold more to the development of complications after colectomy compared with variance at the surgeon and hospital level, highlighting the impact of patient comorbidities on postoperative outcomes. These results underscore the importance of initiatives that optimize patient foundational health to improve surgical care.


© 2022 by the American College of Surgeons. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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