Clinical and economic outcomes of serious postoperative infections following resection of common respiratory and gastrointestinal solid tumors
Unlike infections occurring during periods of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, postoperative infections in patients with solid malignancy remain largely understudied. The purpose of this population-based study was to evaluate the clinical and economic burden, as well as the relationship of hospital surgical volume and outcomes associated with serious postoperative infection (SPI) – i.e., bacteremia/sepsis, pneumonia, and wound infection – following resection of common solid tumors.
From the Texas Discharge Data Research File, we identified all Texas residents who underwent resection of cancer of the lung, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, colon, or rectum between 2002 and 2006. From their billing records, we identified ICD-9 codes indicating SPI and also subsequent SPI-related readmissions occurring within 30 days of surgery. Random-effects logistic regression was used to calculate the impact of SPI on mortality, as well as the association between surgical volume and SPI, adjusting for case-mix, hospital characteristics, and clustering of multiple surgical admissions within the same patient and patients within the same hospital. Excess bed days and costs were calculated by subtracting values for patients without infections from those with infections computed using multilevel mixed-effects generalized linear model by fitting a gamma distribution to the data using log link.
Serious postoperative infection occurred following 9.4% of the 37,582 eligible tumor resections and was independently associated with an 11-fold increase in the odds of in-hospital mortality (95% Confidence Interval [95% CI], 6.7-18.5, P < 0.001). Patients with SPI required 6.3 additional hospital days (95% CI, 6.1 - 6.5) at an incremental cost of $16,396 (95% CI, $15,927–$16,875). There was a significant trend toward lower overall rates of SPI with higher surgical volume (P=0.037).
Due to the substantial morbidity, mortality, and excess costs associated with SPI following solid tumor resections and given that, under current reimbursement practices, most of this heavy burden is borne by acute care providers, it is imperative for hospitals to identify more effective prophylactic measures, so that these potentially preventable infections and their associated expenditures can be averted. Additional volume-outcomes research is also needed to identify infection prevention processes that can be transferred from higher- to lower-volume providers.