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Lown Institute Hospital Index Analysis Finds Hysterectomy Overuse for Benign Conditions

According to the Lown Index, hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is frequently overused for benign conditions. For 81 percent of hospitals, at least half of all hysterectomies performed between 2015 and 2017 were unnecessary. 1,167 hospitals performed at least 20 unnecessary hysterectomies between 2015 and 2017, and 495 hospitals performed at least 50.

As part of the Lown Institute Hospitals Index, hospitals were ranked on their use of 13 common low-value services, one of which was unnecessary hysterectomy. Hospitals were ranked on avoiding hysterectomies based on the percentage of hysterectomies that were unnecessary and adjusted for the total volume of hysterectomies performed. For example, when two hospitals had the same rate of unnecessary hysterectomies, the hospital with larger volume received a score indicating more overuse. Their analysis confirms that this procedure was commonly overused in U.S. hospitals; 1,167 hospitals performed at least 20 unnecessary hysterectomies and 495 hospitals performed at least 50. For 81 percent of hospitals, at least half of all hysterectomies performed between 2015 and 2017 were unnecessary.

Previous research finds that overuse of hysterectomy disproportionately affects Black women, who are more likely than white women to have a hysterectomy for a benign condition. Policymakers and patients should question why certain regions of the country have much higher rates of unnecessary hysterectomy and whether these rates are influenced by implicit racial biases.

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