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Hale NE, Macleod LC, Yabes JG, Turner RM, Fam MM, Gingrich JR, Skolarus TA, Borza T, Sabik LM, Davies BJ, Jacobs BL. Implications of Cystectomy Travel Distance for Hospital Readmission and Survival. Clinical genitourinary cancer. 2019 Dec 1; 17(6):e1171-e1180.
BACKGROUND: Regionalization of complex surgical care results in increasing need for patients to travel for complex oncologic procedures such as cystectomy in bladder cancer. We examined the association between travel distance to a cystectomy center, readmission, and survival. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare data, we identified bladder cancer patients undergoing radical cystectomy during 2004-2011. Patients were grouped into quartiles of distance to cystectomy center in miles ( < 6 [close], 6-16.9 [moderately close], 17-47.9 [moderately far], = 48 [far]). Multivariable logistic regression, accounting for clustering within hospitals, was used to assess the association between travel distance and readmission. A secondary analysis examined the association between travel distance and survival using multivariable proportional hazard regression. RESULTS: Among 4556 patients who underwent cystectomy, 1857 (41%) were readmitted, and 1251 (67%) of readmissions were to the index hospital. With increasing travel distance there was no significant difference in the overall rate of 90-day readmission. However, the farther a patient traveled, the lower the odds of being readmitted to the index hospital (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval] as follows: moderately close, 0.43 miles [0.29-0.63]; moderately far, 0.14 miles [0.10-0.19]; and far, 0.07 [0.05-0.11]). Increasing travel distance was associated with improved survival. CONCLUSION: With greater distance traveled to a cystectomy center, rates of readmission to nonindex centers increased. Survival differences may be explained by the impact of travel burden on processes of care and case mix. Future efforts should focus on improving care coordination between index and nonindex hospitals and ensuring equitable access to cystectomy and other critical cancer services.