To compare strategies for hospital ranking based on colon surgical-site infection (SSI) rate by combining all colon procedures versus stratifying by surgical approach (ie, laparoscopic vs open).
Retrospective cohort study.
We identified SSIs among Medicare beneficiaries undergoing colon surgery from 2009 through 2013 using previously validated methods. We created a risk prediction model for SSI using age, sex, race, comorbidities, surgical approach (laparoscopy vs open), and concomitant colon and noncolon procedures. Adjusted SSI rates were used to rank hospitals. Subanalyses were performed for common colon procedures and procedure types for which there were both open and laparoscopic procedures. We generated ranks using only open and only laparoscopic procedures, overall and for each subanalysis. Rankings were compared using a Spearman correlation coefficient.
In total, 694,813 colon procedures were identified among 508,135 Medicare beneficiaries. The overall SSI rate was 7.6%. The laparoscopic approach was associated with lower SSI risk (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4-0.5), and higher SSI risk was associated with concomitant abdominal surgeries (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.4-1.5) and higher Elixhauser score (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.0-1.1). Hospital rankings for laparascopic procedures were poorly correlated with rankings for open procedures (r = 0.23).
Hospital rankings based on total colon procedures fail to account for differences in SSI risk from laparoscopic vs open procedures. Stratifying rankings by surgical approach yields a more equitable comparison of surgical performance.