Surgical outcomes may differ between low-volume and experienced hospitals. We sought to identify characteristics of remote patients-those living more than 50 miles from an experienced center-who underwent leg amputations for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and foot complications at low-volume and experienced hospitals and identify regions of Texas where such patients live.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Publicly available Texas hospitalization data from 2004 through 2009 were used to identify patients with PAD who underwent leg amputation for foot complications, including foot ulcers, foot infections, and gangrene. Geocoding was used to further identify a subset of remote patients and to estimate distances from zip code of residence to hospital in which care was received.
Among all leg amputations, 850 (18.6%) were performed on patients classified as remote, and 3723 (81.4%) were performed on patients classified as nonremote. Compared with nonremote patients, remote patients were more often categorized as white and more frequently received Medicare and/or Medicaid. Of the subset of remote patients, those at low-volume hospitals were older, were less often categorized as Hispanic, more often had Medicaid coverage, were also more frequently admitted through the emergency department, and often had a foot infection compared with those at experienced centers. Geospatial analysis identified five concentrated geographic areas of remote patients who live more than 50 miles from an experienced center.
These findings suggest travel distance may at least influence, if not constrain, the choice of hospital for patients with PAD and foot complications. Efforts to decrease leg amputations among remote patients should be focused on five specific geographic areas of Texas.