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  • 7 Deadly Emergency Surgeries



    In a paper published in JAMA Surgery on Wednesday by Joaquim M. Havens, a researcher at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, researchers found a surprising pattern related to deaths and emergency surgeries

    In an analysis of 421,476 patient records from a national database of hospital inpatients, they discovered that a mere seven procedures accounted for approximately 80 percent of all admissions, deaths, complications and inpatient costs related to emergency surgeries. The sample included only adults who underwent a procedure within two days of admission from 2008 to 2011.


    The seven dangerous and costly procedures are mostly related to the organs of the digestive system:


    1. removing part of the colon,
    2. small-bowel resection,
    3. removing the gallbladder,
    4. operations related to peptic ulcer disease,
    5. removing abdominal adhesions,
    6. appendectomy and
    7. Exploratory Laparotomy



    Joaquim M. Havens, a researcher at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues said some limitations of the study include the fact that it was based on claims data, which sometimes have missing information and other issues, and that patients who did not undergo operations were excluded but might have provided valuable information about possible differences in care when it’s managed by surgeons and non-surgeons. Moreover, the analysis was limited to patients who had an operation within two days of being admitted, so it doesn’t account for the full burden of these kinds of procedures.

    One can only assume the emergency cases anesthesia associates with high death rates such as open ruptured emergent aortic aneurysm, subdural hematoma, ectopic pregnancy and the like are just much more rare and therefore account for less of the total overall mortality. One also has to assume that some of these surgeries being very common on the elderly adult, carry significant risk simply because of their health status.


    So next time you are called to do an emergency appendectomy at 3:30 in the morning, just remember that it is considered one of the top seven procedures with the most deaths and complications. Doesn't that make your loss of sleep feel more worthwhile?