Assessment of appropriateness of cataract surgery at ten academic medical centers in 1990.
PURPOSE: To develop criteria for the appropriateness of cataract surgery (extracapsular cataract extraction or phacoemulsification with planned implantation of a posterior chamber intraocular lens) and to apply these criteria to patients from ten academic medical centers. METHODS: The study is a retrospective case series from ten academic medical centers. One thousand one hundred thirty-nine patients who had had cataract surgery in 1990 at the medical centers were selected randomly. Patients, identified by specific ICD-9-CM or CPT-4 codes, had no other ocular surgery performed at the same time as cataract surgery. Rates of inappropriate, uncertain, appropriate, and appropriate and crucial surgeries were determined by application of the criteria established by a multidisciplinary expert panel. RESULTS: Approximately 2% of the procedures were classified as inappropriate, after adjusting for missing or nonspecific visual function by use of discriminant analysis. Ninety-one percent of the procedures were classified as appropriate (52%) or appropriate and crucial (39%). Seven percent were designated as uncertain, either due to a median rating in the uncertain range or to disagreement in ratings among the panelists. Significant variation occurred in the results among the different institutions: inappropriate surgeries ranged from 0% to 4%, uncertain from 1% to 14%, appropriate from 35% to 66%, and appropriate and crucial from 21% to 62% (P=0.02). CONCLUSION: A small percentage of cataract surgeries was performed at these ten academic medical centers for inappropriate indications using the study criteria. Given the large number of cataract surgeries performed annually, the small percentage of uncertain and inappropriate surgeries may translate into a large number of surgeries performed for less than appropriate or appropriate and crucial indications. Significant variation existed among the institutions in the distribution of appropriate and crucial and appropriate compared with uncertain and inappropriate surgeries.
Tobacman, JK; Lee, P; Zimmerman, B; Kolder, H; Hilborne, L; Brook, R
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