Factors associated with inpatient thoracentesis procedure quality at university hospitals

Sarah E. Kozmic, Diane B. Wayne, Joe Feinglass, Samuel F. Hohmann, Jeffrey H. Barsuk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: Physicians increasingly refer thoracentesis procedures to interventional radiology (IR) rather than performing them at the bedside. Factors associated with thoracentesis procedures at university hospitals were studied to determine clinical outcomes by provider specialty. Methods: An administrative database review was performed of patients who underwent an inpatient thoracentesis procedure in hospitals participating in the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Database from January 2010 through September 2013. The incidence of iatrogenic pneumothorax, mean total hospital costs, and mean length of stay (LOS) were compared by clinical specialty. Results: There were 113,860 admissions with 132,472 thoracentesis procedures performed on 99,509 patients at 234 UHC hospitals. IR performed 43,783 (33%) thoracentesis procedures; medicine, 22,243 (17%); and pulmonary, 26,887 (20%). The incidence of iatrogenic pneumothorax was 2.8% for IR, 2.9% for medicine, and 3.1% for pulmonary. Medicine and pulmonary had equivalent risk of iatrogenic pneumothorax compared to IR after controlling for clinical covariates. Admissions with medicine and pulmonary procedures were associated with significantly lower costs compared to IR admissions (p < 0.001) after controlling for clinical covariates. Admissions with IR procedures had a mean LOS of 14.1 days; medicine, 13.2 days; and pulmonary, 15.9 days. Admissions with medicine and pulmonary procedures were associated with fewer hospital days when compared to IR in the controlled model (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Admissions with medicine and pulmonary bedside thoracentesis procedures are as safe and less costly than IR procedures. Shifting IR thoracentesis procedures to the bedside might be a potential way to reduce hospital costs while still ensuring high-quality patient care, provided that portable ultrasound is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management

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