Emergency Bowel Surgery Death Rates Described as ‘Too High’

June 30th, 2015
Emergency Bowel Surgery Death Rates Described as ‘Too High’

The number of people who die following emergency bowel surgery is too high, according to an audit carried out in England and Wales.

Members of the National Laparotomy Audit team discovered that 1 in 10 people die within 30 days of an emergency laparotomy procedure. Experts believe that some of these deaths could be prevented and potential issues that were raised by the audit include a lack of expert supervision for some procedures. There were also concerns that the best possible treatment was not available immediately for those who required emergency care.

The audit, which was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, analysed data from 120,000 patients across 192 hospitals in England and Wales.

The findings of the audit indicated significant variations in standards of care, a shortfall for reaching targets in between 30 and 40 percent of the hospitals involved and a failure to meet targets for seeing a consultant and getting to theatre. Only 50 percent of patients were seen by a consultant within the recommended time-frame of 12 hours and only 1 in 6 were sent to theatre within the recommended period, despite the urgent nature of the procedure. The study also highlighted a high risk of sepsis in many patients who were not treated with antibiotics quickly enough.

More than 30,000 emergency laparotomy procedures are carried out in England Wales each year. The procedure involves creating an incision in the abdomen in order to treat issues affecting the bowel, including internal bleeding, perforation and obstruction.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Miss Clare Mark, said that the statistics are worrying and addressing barriers to first-class standards of care and higher survival rates should be a priority.

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