AHRQ: The five most expensive surgeries in America

Heart valve procedures incur the costliest hospital stays

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a statistical brief on the most common OR procedures in the United States in 2011—and how much those procedures cost.

The brief was released as part of the group's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. "Identifying the volume, characteristics, and costs of OR procedures can help policymakers and researchers better understand population health and facilitate health care improvement efforts," according to the brief.

Overall, AHRQ estimates that about 15 million U.S. hospitals stays involve OR procedures each year. According to the brief, the average hospital stay with an OR procedure costs $3,300 per day and lasts about five days. By comparison, a hospital stay with no OR procedure costs an average of $1,700 per day and lasts about 4.4 days.

AHRQ found that there were 15,662,000 surgical procedures performed at U.S. hospitals in 2011, and the 20 most common procedures represented more than half of all procedures and costs. 

The five most common OR procedures in 2011 were:

  • Cesarean section (1,272,000 procedures);
  • Circumcision (1,108,000);
  • Arthroplasty of knee (718,000);
  • Percutaneous coronary angioplasty (560,000); and
  • Excision of intervertebral disc (525,000).

USAT: The most over-performed surgeries in America

Meanwhile, AHRQ found that the five costliest OR procedures—defined as having the highest aggregate hospital costs for the entire stay—in 2011 were:

  • Heart valve procedures ($53,400 per hospital stay)
  • Coronary artery bypass graft ($38,700);
  • Small bowel resection ($34,500);
  • Procedures related to cardiac pacemakers or cardioverters ($33,200); and
  • Spinal fusion ($27,600).

Although spinal fusions ranked fifth in terms of cost per stay, the procedure had the highest aggregate cost for hospital stays in 2011, costing $12.8 billion (AHRQ brief, February 2014; Herman, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/19).

Research from our Surgical Profitability Compass

The new health care growth paradigm is dramatically changing the way you should manage surgical services. To preserve volumes, you must address the new roles decision makers are playing as wholesale purchasers, referring network providers, and active patient consumers.

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Next in the Daily Briefing

Daily roundup: Feb. 20, 2014

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