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Spending on Vascular Care Has Little Effect on Amputations

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 21, 2013

Goodney emphasized that the variation for the most part "is driven by differences in the types of treatments and frequency of use rather than the differences in patients' health status or other characteristics.

Goodney says that the next step will be to look in detail at areas of the country with low spending on lower limb vascular care and fewer amputations. "That's going to be the place that we want to try to replicate across the country. Instead of spending $42,000 a year in the last year before an amputation, in say, Salinas, you can get similar results by spending a quarter of that. We can learn what they're doing and export it to Salinas."

He added that he and his research team "hope Medicare officials will listen to us, in terms of offering some advice on how to make this better."

About two million people in the U.S. are living with amputations, and slightly more than half of those lost their limbs because of circulatory disease. There are about 180,000 amputations performed a year, a hospital cost of about $8.3 billion annually.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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