May 17, 2011
A surprising study of nearly 46 million Medicare patients says older residents in rural areas are more likely to have any of nine common surgeries than people in cities.
Back surgery, hip and knee replacements, and prostate removal were among the operations performed more often in rural Medicare patients, the study found. Emergency surgeries and elective operations alike were more common among rural residents.
"When I first saw the result, I looked at it and said maybe I got it backwards," said lead author Dr. Mark Francis, a researcher at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso. The study doesn't indicate where rural residents had surgery. It's likely many had to travel some distance, which would be risky when urgent surgery is needed.