The impact of our evolving health care system on a commonly performed surgical procedure, cholecystectomy, was assessed in a county-subsidized and private university hospital setting. Although condition on admission, use of resources, and outcome were unchanged in the private setting between 1980 and 1988, significant differences were noted among the largely uninsured patients at the county facility during this same time interval. There was a significant increase in the acuity of illness among patients undergoing cholecystectomy at the county hospital in 1988 as compared with 1980. These data suggest that alterations in reimbursement strategies and allocation of resources are significantly impacting on patient care, particularly in nonprivate health care facilities.
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