If just 10 percent of emergency surgeries for three common procedures were instead planned elective surgeries, the nation's healthcare bill could be lowered by $1 billion over a 10-year period.

In a new study published in the Annals of Surgery, researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 621,925 patients from 2001 to 2010 who underwent abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, coronary artery bypass graft and colon resection. Hospital costs for caring for these patients was calculated with standardized information on inpatient cost and charge as reported by hospitals to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid.

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