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Wide Variations In Elective Surgeries Among Western Cities

— The likelihood of having elective surgery largely depends on where you live. A new report reveals some wide variations on elective surgeries among different parts of the West.

Surgeons at UCLA Medical Center.
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Above: Surgeons at UCLA Medical Center.

The latest report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project looks at surgical rates for 10 elective procedures. The rates are compared for Medicare patients in 306 western cities.

For instance, the report shows people in Palm Springs are much more likely to have knee replacement surgery than people in San Diego. On the other hand, Medicare recipients in San Diego have a much higher mastectomy rate than those living in San Francisco.

The study's lead author, Shannon Brownlee, said patients need to make informed decisions.

"Many patients are not even aware that the decision about elective surgery is actually a choice, and that it's theirs to make," Brownlee pointed out. "Instead, patients kind of routinely delegate these important decisions to their physicians."

The report shows Honolulu has much lower rates of elective surgeries than California cities.

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