Research Article

A new method of auditing surgical mortality rates: application to a group of elderly general surgical patients.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 22 May 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:1539
  1. D G Seymour,
  2. R Pringle


    In a prospective study of 505 patients aged 65 years or over admitted to a general surgical unit the overall hospital mortality rate was 14.5% and the postoperative mortality rate 12.0%. These rates fell to 3.6% and 5.8% respectively when deaths in non-viable patients were excluded from the analysis. An audit of surgical outcome that fails to identify non-viable patients is therefore potentially misleading. A standardised system of reporting surgical mortality is proposed to aid the comparison of results from different units. The key elements of this system are (a) the separation of the results from non-viable and potentially viable patients; (b) the consideration of both operative and non-operative mortality; (c) the differentiation between medical and surgical causes of postoperative mortality; and (d) the identification of patients who are discharged from the unit but who have residual malignancy. Data presented in such a way should be of direct relevance to surgeons and physicians who are seeking ways of improving the service provided for surgical patients of all ages.