San Diego doctors are not performing enough cancer surgeries, according
to a new report. More importantly, the low volumes put patients at risk
for medical errors and other complications.
Studies have shown that “practice makes perfect” when it comes
to certain cancer surgeries. More specifically, hospitals that perform
higher volumes of lung, pancreas, esophageal, or rectal cancer surgeries
have better outcomes and lower mortality.
With this in mind,
CalQualityCare.org, operated by the California Health Care Foundation, examined a state database
to determine each San Diego County hospital’s volume for 11 cancer
surgery types. The data revealed that in 2014, an alarming number of San
Diego County hospitals did far fewer cancer surgeries than what is recommended.
According to the report, five of the nine hospitals performing pancreas
surgery in San Diego County did only one or two that year. Three of the
six hospitals that perform esophagus cancer surgeries did one or two.
In addition, five of the twelve hospitals performing stomach cancer surgeries
did just one or two.
“If a hospital is only doing one or two of any kind of cancer surgery
every year, that’s very, very low volume, and it’s likely
having far more complications,” said Dr. Bruce Spurlock, board chairman
of the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce.
Other health care experts agree, maintaining that low-volume hospitals
should stop performing the procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center,
Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the University of Michigan Health System don’t
allow surgeons to perform four types of cancer surgeries unless they meet
certain volume thresholds. They dictate that surgeons perform 20 esophagus
cancer, 40 lung cancer, 20 pancreas cancer, and 15 rectal cancer surgeries a year.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a surgical
error, you may be entitled to compensation, including pain and suffering
damages and reimbursement of medical expenses. To discuss your legal rights, please contact
a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.