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.

When compared to elective surgery, emergency surgery was 30 percent more expensive for abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, 17 percent more expensive for coronary artery bypass graft, and 53 percent more expensive for colon resection. Researchers also found that patients who underwent elective surgery had significantly lower rates of mortality compared to those who had emergency surgical procedures.

The study is available here.

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