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Elective surgery -- this study says where you live might matter

February 24, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
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Location, location, location. It affects much more than home prices. It also appears to influence whether you have elective surgery. Data collected on Medicare patients across the country found that the number of such surgeries varies widely by region.

The numbers, from 2003 through 2007, included rates of bypass surgery, gall bladder removal, back surgery and other procedures offered to patients as an option. The report was released Thursday by the Dartmouth Atlas Project and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decisions.

Here's a sample: "Medicare patients with heart disease in Elyria, Ohio, were 10 times more likely to have a procedure such as angioplasty or stents than those in Honolulu. And women over 65 living in Victoria, Texas, were seven times more likely to undergo mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer than women in Muncie, Ind.," said the announcement about the report.

Why does location matter? The study suggests that doctors rather than patients have more sway in making these decisions and that patients may not fully understand the medical options given to them.

In short, the doctor is important too. Choose wisely.

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