(RxWiki News) Peripheral artery disease patients may not be receiving the same quality of care, and some may be paying more for similar treatment, depending on the type of provider.
PAD patients tended to fare best when receiving services from an interventional radiologist. PAD is a common condition in which blockages narrow arteries, slowing blood flow to the legs.
"Investigate PAD providers and treatment options thoroughly."
Dr. Marshall Hicks, president-elect of the Society of Interventional Radiology and an interventional radiologist and head of the diagnostic imaging division at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, noted that improving the quality of healthcare and cost savings for PAD patients is critical.
He said that the study can aid consumers in understanding that different physicians get different outcomes for the same treatments, and that they have a choice in who they receive treatment from.
This can be especially beneficial to would-be patients since minimally invasive PAD treatments tend to result in short hospital stays at a lower cost.
During the study researchers reviewed the Medicare claims from more than 14,000 PAD patients over the age of 65. The review of Medicare's standard analytical files was completed over a two-year period, and included both inpatient and outpatient services.
The investigators compared the outcomes of percutaneous PAD treatments by doctor specialty type, including, interventional radiologists, interventional cardiologists and vascular surgeons.
They also assessed mortality, rate of blood transfusions, intensive care use, length of hospital stay, and restoration of blood flow or amputation.
Researchers found the adjusted average one-year procedure cost when performed by interventional radiologists as opposed to interventional cardiologists or vascular surgeons was about $17,640, which saves Medicare about $1,000 a procedure. In a large population, that could amount to about $230 million in taxpayer savings a year.
Patient outcomes also were found to better when interventional radiologists performed the procedures. Patients that had the procedure done by an interventional radiologist were found to have a lower risk of infection, require less anesthesia, have less pain and scarring, and experience a quicker recovery.
The data indicated that when the procedure was performed by vascular surgeons or interventional cardiologists, patients were more likely to need a transfusion, utilize the intensive care unit, or have longer hospital stays; and need more repeat procedures or amputations at a higher cost.
The study was published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.