Improving Patient Decision-Making: West South Central Region

In this Dartmouth Atlas report, the seventh in a series of nine U.S. regional reports, we show the wide regional variation in the likelihood that patients with similar conditions receive elective procedures. This report highlights the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) and shows the variation across the region and the United States.

For patients whose conditions can be treated with elective surgery, location matters.  For example, if you have heart disease and live in Tyler, Texas, you are half as likely to undergo balloon angioplasty than if you live in Oklahoma City, and twice as likely to undergo back surgery than if you live in New Orleans. If you have osteoarthritis of the knee and live in Ponca City, Oklahoma, you are more than twice as likely to have your knee replaced than if you live in Newport, Arkansas.

This report, a collaborative project with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, looks at the variation in surgical rates in 306 hospital referral regions across the United States (a hospital referral region is a large health care market containing at least one referral hospital).