Access to Left Ventricular Assist Device: Travel Time Does Not Tell The Whole Story

J. Hunter Mehaffey, J. Michael Cullen, Robert B. Hawkins, Clifford Fonner, John Kern, Alan Speir, Mohammed Quader, Gorav Ailawadi, Nicholas Teman, Leora Yarboro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Negative health effects of traveling longer distances for surgical services have been reported. Given the high complexity of multidisciplinary care required for management of Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implantation, only 4 of 18 centers in our state perform these operations. Given the limited access we hypothesized increased travel time would adversely affect postoperative outcomes and 30-d mortality. Methods: A statewide Society of Thoracic Surgeons database was queried to identify patients undergoing Heartmate II/III and HVAD implantation, and 725 patients were identified. Travel time was calculated by zip code. Patients were stratified into regional and distant groups by the upper quartile of travel time (1-h). Preoperative variables and outcomes were compared between the groups. Multivariate analysis was performed to evaluate the impact of travel time in risk-adjusted models of 30-d mortality. Results: Median patient travel time to their LVAD center in our state is 32 min (mean 53 ± 65 min, 46 ± 71 miles). Patients in the distant group (n = 191) had lower median incomes, higher self-pay status, higher rates of medical comorbid disease. Despite these differences there was no difference between the groups in ICU and/or hospital length of stay, readmission, postoperative complications, or 30-d mortality. Multivariate regression demonstrated insurance status, age, and prior surgery predicted 30-d mortality, but not travel time. Conclusions: Despite only four centers in the state performing LVAD implantation, travel time was strongly associated with preoperative risk, and socioeconomic status but not postoperative outcomes or 30-d mortality. Therefore, increasing access should focus on insurance, and patient characteristics not travel time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Volume271
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Access to care
  • Left ventricular assist device
  • LVAD
  • Travel distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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