Professional fee payments by specialty for inpatient open ventral hernia repair: who gets paid for treating comorbidities and complications?

Daniel L. Davenport, Travis G. Hughes, Ray I. Mirembo, Margaret A. Plymale, J. Scott Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine perioperative professional fee payments to providers from different specialties for the care of patients undergoing inpatient open ventral hernia repair (VHR). Methods: Perioperative data of patients undergoing VHR at a single center over 3 years were selected from our NSQIP database. 180-day follow-up data were obtained via retrospective review of records and phone calls to patients. Professional fee payments (PFPs) to all providers were obtained from our physician billing system for the VHR hospitalization, the 180 days prior to operation (180Prior) and the 180 days post-discharge (180Post). Results: PFPs for 283 cases were analyzed. Average total 360-day PFPs per patient were $3409 ± SD 3294, with 14.5% ($493 ± 1546) for services in the 180Preop period, 72.5% ($2473 ± 1881) for the VHR hospitalization, and 13.0% ($443 ± 1097) in the 180Postop period. The surgical service received 62% of PFPs followed by anesthesia (18%), medical specialties (9%), radiology (6%), and all other provider services (5%). Medical specialties received increased PFPs for care of patients with COPD and HCT < 38% ($90 and $521, respectively) and for the pulmonary complications ($2471) and sepsis ($2714) that correlated with those patient comorbidities; surgeons did not. Operative duration, mesh size, and separation of components were associated with increased surgeon PFPs (p <.05). At 6 months, wound complications were associated with increased surgeon and radiology payments (p <.01). Conclusions: Management of acute comorbid conditions and the associated higher postoperative morbidity is not reimbursed to the surgeon under the 90-day global fee. These represent opportunity costs of care that pressure busy surgeons to select against these patients or to delegate more management to their medical specialty colleagues, thereby increasing total system costs. A comorbid risk adjustment of procedural reimbursement is warranted. In negotiating bundled payments, surgeon groups should keep in mind that surgeon reimbursement, unlike medical specialty and hospital reimbursement, have been bundled since the 1990s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Comorbid conditions
  • Medical specialties
  • Postoperative complications
  • Professional fee payments
  • Reimbursement
  • Ventral hernia repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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