Preoperative and intraoperative factors predictive of length of hospital stay after pulmonary lobectomy.
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BACKGROUND: Length of hospital stay is an important determinant of overall surgical costs. Health care resources are finite, so reductions in length of stay are desirable. We reviewed our experience with pulmonary lobectomy to identify preoperative and intraoperative factors that predicted the length of postoperative hospital stay. By identifying these factors, we hoped to favorably influence future patient management. METHODS: Records of patients undergoing pulmonary lobectomy for benign or malignant disease over a four-year period (1998-2001) were reviewed. Data was collected on age, sex, pulmonary function, pulmonary pathology, cigarette smoking, type of thoracotomy incision, use of surgical sealants, surgeon, and length of hospital stay. RESULTS: Three hundred and sixty patients underwent lobectomy. Forward stepwise regression identified age (p=0.022), FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) (p=0.047), diffusion capacity (p=0.020), and surgeon (p<0.001) as independent factors predictive of hospital length of stay. When these four factors were analyzed in a multiple linear regression model, the surgeon variable emerged as the strongest predictor of length of stay (p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Although patient factors were influential, the individual surgeon was the most important determinant of hospital length of stay after pulmonary lobectomy. It may be possible to reduce length of hospital stay by identifying variations in practice within the surgical group, and encouraging widespread adoption of "best practice" surgical techniques.
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