Research Article

Oesophageal cancer treatment in North East Thames region, 1981: medical audit using Hospital Activity Analysis data.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.288.6434.1892 (Published 23 June 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1892
  1. R Earlam

    Abstract

    Figures from the Hospital Activity Analysis in the North East Thames region in 1981 were used to perform a medical audit on oesophageal cancer treatment. Four hundred and forty four patients were admitted with this diagnosis; 80 had been intubated without a thoracotomy or laparotomy, and 73 had had surgery (two thirds radical and one third palliative) with an overall operative mortality of 33%. Fifty five patients had had radiotherapy and 179 patients had no recorded operation or investigation. One hundred and seventy seven different consultants had looked after all these inpatients, most being general surgeons. Only five consultants had looked after 10 or more patients each year. From a calculated estimate of a total 286 patients in the region, 28% had palliative intubation and 25% had surgery; 20% of all the patients had radiotherapy either as a radical or palliative treatment, the remainder having no recorded therapeutic procedure. One hundred and eighty seven patients (66% of the calculated total) died in hospital. Investigation and treatment do not seem to be limited by lack of money, but money is being wasted by admitting patients for terminal care into acute hospital beds. It would be more humane for these patients to die at home or in a hospice if they wished.