Trusts are told to prioritise high risk general surgical patients

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 28 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6168
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

The high rate of complications and deaths after major abdominal surgery could be radically cut if hospitals prioritised high risk emergency cases over elective cases, says a new report from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

The report points out that death rates of 15% to 20% are typical, and the rate can be as high as 40% in the oldest patients. Death rates for general surgery are up to three times those for cardiac surgery, where there has been a much greater focus on outcomes. Complications and death rates vary significantly between hospitals and even within the same hospital, depending on the time of day, the report says.

Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said, “The focus on reducing waiting times for elective procedures has resulted in a large group, of mostly elderly patients, becoming seriously underprioritised to the point of neglect in some NHS hospitals.”

The …

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