Background: Data from the Patient Safety in Surgery Study were used to compare preoperative risk factors, intraoperative variables, and surgical outcomes of adrenalectomy procedures performed in 81 Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals with those performed in 14 private-sector (PS) hospitals. Study Design: This study is a retrospective review of prospectively collected data on all patients undergoing adrenalectomy in the VA and PS for fiscal years 2002 through 2004. Bivariate analysis compared VA and PS preoperative risk factors, intraoperative variables, and 30-day morbidity and mortality. Regression risk-adjustment analysis was used to compare 30-day postoperative morbidity in the VA and PS. Results: During the 3 years studied, 178 VA patients and 371 PS patients underwent adrenalectomy procedures with a median per site of 2 (range 1-9) and 21 (range 8-70) procedures per VA and PS hospital, respectively. The VA patients had considerably more comorbidities than PS patients. The unadjusted 30-day morbidity rate was significantly higher in VA (16.29%) than PS (6.74%) hospitals (p = 0.0003); after controlling for the higher rate of comorbidities, the adjusted odds ratio for morbidity in the VA versus the PS hospitals was no longer significant (odds ratio = 1.328; 95% CI, 0.488-3.613). Unadjusted mortality rate was VA 2.81%, PS 0.27%, p = 0.0074. The low event rate overall precluded risk adjustment for mortality. Conclusions: The VA adrenalectomy population has more preoperative risk factors and substantially higher unadjusted 30-day postoperative morbidity and mortality rates than the PS population. After risk adjustment, there is no significant difference in morbidity between the VA and the PS. A larger study population is needed to compare risk-adjusted mortality between the VA and PS.
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