HealthDay News — Surgical cases involving plastic surgeons have a higher profit margin for hospitals than those performed by any department alone, according to a study published in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Emma D. Vartanian, M.D., from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues quantified the overlooked value of plastic surgeons as consultants who facilitate complex and profitable operations using hospital billing data (2015 to 2017).

The researchers found 554 cases that required a reconstructive surgeon and used 18,904 nonconsultation cases for comparison. For cases involving a consultation, average net revenue per case was 1.79 times greater than for control cases, while the average contribution margin was 1.73 times greater. Joint cases with cardiothoracic surgery and neurosurgery had the highest contribution margins. For consultation cases, the case mix index was significantly higher versus controls (4.5 versus 3.9). In three-quarters of cases (78%), plastic surgery assisted with an integral aspect of the operation, meaning the surgery could not have been technically performed without reconstructive assistance.

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“We show that cases requiring a plastic and reconstructive surgery consultation are significantly more complex, as measured by case mix index, and more profitable, as measured by contribution margin, than comparable operations without consultation,” the authors write. “Plastic surgeons are thus not only clinically invaluable to their surgical colleagues, but financially invaluable to the hospital system.”

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