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High-volume transplant centers save lives, and money

surgery-1049588_1920It's old news that transplant patients fare better at centers that perform many transplants. But now, a team led by Joshua Mooney, MD, a Stanford instructor of medicine, has found that lung transplants done at higher-volume center cost less too.

The researchers examined Medicare lung transplant data from nearly 60 transplant centers classified as high, medium and low-volume between 2005 and 2011. The data stemmed from 3,128 lung transplant patients. The mean transplant cost ranged from $131,000 at high-volume centers to nearly $144,000 at low-volume centers. High-volume centers also had lower rates of 30-day hospital re-admissions and lower in-hospital mortality than low-volume centers.

The findings underscore the importance of considering “how many transplants a program does and how it affects patients,” Mooney said. The results also support previous research showing that transplant patients are more likely to have positive outcomes if the transplant is performed at a high-volume center.

The research is published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Mooney specializes in the treatment of patients with advanced lung disease and lung transplants, and he cited his practice as the inspiration for investigating the correlation between transplant center volume, cost and patient outcome.

In the future, Mooney said he plans to focus on the question of lung transplant accessibility. He noted that more than half of the low-volume transplant centers are the only ones readily available to many patients due to their geographic location. He said he plans to look at transplant access “not only from the perspective of patients who have already made it to the transplant list, but from a population level to study how geographic differences may affect the ability of patients with end-stage lung disease to even be evaluated and/or listed for transplant. The goal is to improve the outcomes, quality, and cost in lung transplant while also ensuring access to all who need it."

His work was supported by a KL2 Mentored Career Development Award of the Stanford Clinical and Translational Science Award to Spectrum.

Previously: Regular exercise may boost lung transplant patients' heart health, quality of lifeLiving long term with transplanted organs: One patient's story and After heart transplant, who survives? New study offers tools to tell
Photo by scotth23

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