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Geography has a role in elective surgery decisions, study finds

May 22, 2013|By Anna Gorman

Geography plays a role in whether patients in California have elective operations such as joint replacement, weight loss surgery and gallbladder removal, according to a new study.

The California HealthCare Foundation study showed wide variations in patient surgeries across the state.

The authors attribute the difference to several factors, including physician preferences and lack of clinical evidence that one procedure is better than another. Patient input also played a role in whether a certain kind of operation was performed.

Some of the differences included:

  • Women in San Francisco are half as likely as women in Redding to undergo a hysterectomy.
  • Men in Fullerton are twice as likely to get their prostates removed than men in Vacaville.
  • Marysville residents are more than twice as likely as patients in Inglewood to have coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

The study focused on all types of patients — those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and those who are uninsured.

If patients and doctors have more access to evidence and information, the variations may decrease, the authors noted. Patients who are more informed are less likely to choose invasive procedures, according to the study.


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