An analysis of records of 65,000 patients who underwent two high-risk surgeries reinforces the evidence that adequate post-surgical primary care reduces the rate of 30-day readmissions.

Researchers at the University of Utah and Dartmouth College examined records of more than 12,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent open surgery to repair a thoracic aortic aneurysm, classified a high-risk procedure, and almost 53,000 who received a ventral hernia repair, a lower-risk operation, between 2003 and 2010.

They found that patients who underwent TAA surgery were much more likely to experience post-operative complications and be readmitted compared to those who had VHR surgery. Nearly 37 percent of TAA surgery patients experienced complications following surgery while 8 percent of VHR patients had complications.

Early follow-up with a primary care physician had a major influence on whether TAA patients with medical and surgical complications had to go back to the hospital, according to the study. Those who saw their primary care provider within 30 days after surgery had a 20 percent readmission rate compared to a rate of 35 percent among those who did not have an early follow-up visit with their primary care physician.

“Clearly, follow-up visits with a primary care provider soon after surgery will help ensure that a patient’s medical complication or chronic disease conditions are being optimally managed,” co-author Benjamin Brooke, M.D., of the University of Utah, said. “Clear communication between surgeons and primary care providers at the time of hospital discharge can help make sure these follow-up visits happen.”

The study, published in JAMA  Surgery, is available here.

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