Perioperative Practice: Time to Throttle Back

Chopra, Vineet; Flanders, Scott A.; Froehlich, James B.; Lau, Wei C.; Eagle, Kim A.
January 2010
Annals of Internal Medicine;1/5/2010, Vol. 152 Issue 1, p47
Academic Journal
The United States spends more on health care than other nations, yet our health outcomes remain inferior to those of many countries. Change is therefore necessary. One approach to health care reform is to identify and eliminate practices associated with high cost and limited benefit. Recent research has shown that many perioperative practices meet this definition. An opportunity thus exists for rational reduction of perioperative expenditure. Perioperative tests and treatments improve outcomes only when targeted at specific patient subsets. For example, routine perioperative stress testing provides no incremental diagnostic yield in patients at low risk for cardiac events, and indiscriminate perioperative therapy with β-blockers can increase mortality in otherwise stable patients. Thus, many "accepted" perioperative practices conflict with the evidence and can be safely discontinued while preserving outcomes and reducing costs. Implementation of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association perioperative guidelines ensures cost-effective management and promises the greatest benefit for our patients. Our society demands better care at lower cost; in perioperative medicine, it is time for us to throttle back.


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