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One aspect of the quality of surgical care is the length of the time patients spend in the operating room and under anesthesia. It is generally believed that the longer a surgical procedure, the greater the chance of a complication. But because obtaining procedure and anesthesia times usually involves a direct review of medical records, few large-scale studies are able to examine procedure times. This Issue Brief summarizes new work that validates the use of Medicare billing data as a proxy for anesthesia times, and illustrates how these data can shed light on hospital and patient characteristics that affect procedure duration and surgical quality.
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Date Posted: 09 December 2016