Volume Pledge is Not Associated with Better Short-Term Outcomes After Lung Cancer Resection.


We examined the relationship between short-term outcomes and hospitals and surgeons who met minimum volume thresholds for lung cancer resection based on definitions provided by the Volume Pledge. A secondary aim was to evaluate the volume-outcome relationship to determine alternative thresholds in the event the Volume Pledge was not associated with outcomes.

We conducted a retrospective study (2015-2017) using the Society of Thoracic Surgeons General Thoracic Surgery Database. We used generalized estimating equations that accounted for confounding and clustering to compare outcomes across hospitals and surgeons who did and did not meet the Volume Pledge criteria: ≥ 40 patients per year for hospitals and ≥ 20 patients per year for surgeons. Our secondary aim was to model volume by using restricted cubic splines to determine the association between volume and short-term outcomes.

Among 32,183 patients, 465 surgeons, and 209 hospitals, 16,630 patients (52%) received care from both a hospital and surgeon meeting the Volume Pledge criteria. After adjustment, there was no relationship with operative mortality, complications, major morbidity, a major morbidity-mortality composite end point, or failure to rescue. The Volume Pledge group had a 0.5 day (95% CI, 0.2 to 0.7 day) shorter length of stay. Our secondary aim revealed a nonlinear relationship between hospital volume and complications in which intermediate-volume hospitals had the highest risk of complications. Surgeon volume was associated with major morbidity, a major morbidity-mortality composite end point, and length of stay in an inverse linear fashion. Only 8% of surgeons had volumes associated with better outcomes.

The Volume Pledge was not associated with better outcomes except for a marginally shorter length of stay. A re-examination of volume-outcome relationships for hospitals and surgeons yielded mixed results that did not reveal a practical alternative for volume-based quality improvement efforts.

  • Block M
  • Brown LM
  • Farjah F
  • Gaissert H
  • Grau-Sepulveda MV
  • Grogan E
  • Kosinski AS
  • Kozower BD
PubMed ID
Appears In
J Clin Oncol, 2020, 38 (30)