Background: Understanding the mechanisms that lead to health-care disparities is necessary to create robust solutions that ensure all patients receive the best possible care. Our objective was to quantify the influence of the individual surgeon on disparate outcomes for minority patients undergoing an emergency general surgery (EGS). Materials and methods: Using the Florida State Inpatient Database, we analyzed patients who underwent one or more of seven EGS procedures from 2010 to 2014. The primary outcome was development of a major postoperative complication. To determine the individual surgeon effect on complications, we performed multilevel mixed effects modeling, adjusting for clinical and hospital factors, such as diagnosis, comorbidities, and hospital teaching status and volume. Results: 215,745 cases performed by 5816 surgeons at 198 hospitals were included. The overall unadjusted complication rate was 8.6%. Black patients had a higher adjusted risk of having a complication than white patients (odds ratio 1.12, 95% confidence interval 1.03-1.22). Surgeon random effects, when hospital fixed effects were held constant, accounted for 27.2% of the unexplained variation in complication risk among surgeons. This effect was modified by patient race; for white patients, surgeon random effects explained only 12.4% of the variability, compared to 52.5% of the variability in complications among black patients. Conclusions: This multiinstitution analysis within a single large state demonstrates that not only do black patients have a higher risk of developing a complication after undergoing EGS than white patients but also surgeon-level effects account for a larger proportion of the between-surgeon variation. This suggests that the individual surgeon contributes to racial disparities in EGS.
- Emergency general surgery
- Provider-level causes of disparities
- Racial disparities
- Random effects