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New Report Raises Concerns About Cancer Surgeries at San Diego Hospitals

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.