A day in the life of emergency general surgery in Canada: a multicentre observational study
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BACKGROUND: Emergency general surgery (EGS) services are gaining popularity in Canada as systems-based approaches to surgical emergencies. Despite the high volume, acuity and complexity of the patient populations served by EGS services, little has been reported about the services' structure, processes, case-mix or outcomes. This study begins a national surveillance effort to define and advance surgical quality in an important and diverse surgical population. METHODS: A national cross-sectional study of EGS services was conducted during a 24-hour period in January 2017 at 14 hospitals across 7 Canadian provinces recruited through the Canadian Association of General Surgeons Acute Care Committee. Patients admitted to the EGS service, new consultations and off-service patients being followed by the EGS service during the study period were included. Patient demographic information and data on operations, procedures and complications were collected. RESULTS: Twelve sites reported resident coverage. Most services did not include trauma. Ten sites had protected operating room time. Overall, 393 patient encounters occurred during the study period (195/386 [50.5%] operative and 191/386 [49.5%] nonoperative), with a mean of 3.8 operations per service. The patient population was complex, with 136 patients (34.6%) having more than 3 comorbidities. There was a wide case-mix, including gallbladder disease (69 cases [17.8%]) and appendiceal disease (31 [8.0%]) as well as complex emergencies, such as obstruction (56 [14.5%]) and perforation (23 [5.9%]). CONCLUSION: The characteristics and case-mix of these Canadian EGS services are heterogeneous, but all services are busy and provide comprehensive operative and nonoperative care to acutely ill patients with high levels of comorbidity.
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