A 30-day prospective audit of all inpatient complications following acute care surgery: How well do we really perform?
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Background: Acute care surgery (ACS) and emergency general surgery (EGS) services must provide timely care and intervention for patients who have some of the most challenging needs. Patients treated by ACS services are often critically ill and have both substantial comorbidities and poor physiologic reserve. Despite the widespread implemention of ACS/EGS services across North America, the true postoperative morbidity rates remain largely unknown. Methods: In this prospective study, inpatients at 8 high-volume ACS/EGS centres in geographically diverse locations in Canada who underwent operative interventions were followed for 30 days or until they were discharged. Readmissions during the 30-day window were also captured. Preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative variables were tracked. Standard statistical methodology was employed. Results: A total of 601 ACS/EGS patients were followed for up to 30 inpatient or readmission days after their index emergent operation. Fifty-one percent of patients were female, and the median age was 51 years. They frequently had substantial medical comorbidities (42%) and morbid obesity (15%). The majority of procedures were minimally invasive (66% laparoscopic). Median length of stay was 3.3 days and the early readmission (< 30 d) rate was 6%. Six percent of patients were admitted to the critical care unit. The overall complication and mortality rates were 34% and 2%, respectively. Cholecystitis (31%), appendicitis (21%), bowel obstruction (18%), incarcerated hernia (12%), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (7%) and soft tissue infections (7%) were the most common diagnoses. The morbidity and mortality rates for open surgical procedures were 73% and 5%, respectively. Conclusion: Nontrauma ACS/EGS procedures are associated with a high postoperative morbidity rate. This study will serve as a prospective benchmark for postoperative complications among ACS/EGS patients and subsequent quality improvement across Canada.
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