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BMJ. 2004 Feb 14;328(7436):379. Epub 2004 Jan 20.

Should surgeons take a break after an intraoperative death? Attitude survey and outcome evaluation.

Author information

  • 1MRC Cancer Cell Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 2XZ.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate attitudes of cardiac surgeons and anaesthetists towards working immediately after an intraoperative death and to establish whether an intraoperative death affects the outcome of subsequent surgery.

DESIGN:

Questionnaire on attitudes to working after an intraoperative death and matched cohort study.

SETTING:

UK adult cardiac surgery centres and regional cardiothoracic surgical centre.

PARTICIPANTS:

371 consultant cardiac surgeons and anaesthetists in the United Kingdom were asked to complete a questionnaire, and seven surgeons from one centre who continued to operate after intraoperative death.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Outcome for 233 patients operated on by a surgeon who had experienced an intraoperative death within the preceding 48 hours compared with outcome of 932 matched controls. Hospital mortality and length of stay as a surrogate for hospital morbidity.

RESULTS:

The questionnaire response rate was 76%. Around a quarter of surgeons and anaesthetists thought they should stop work after an intraoperative death and most wanted guidelines on this subject. Overall, there was no increased mortality in patients operated on in the 48 hours after an intraoperative death. However, mortality was higher if the preceding intraoperative death was in an emergency or high risk case. Survivors operated on within 48 hours after an intraoperative death had longer stay in intensive care (odds ratio 1.64, 95% confidence interval 1.08 to 2.52, P = 0.02) and longer stay in hospital (relative change 1.15, 1.03 to 1.24, P = 0.02).

CONCLUSION:

Mortality is not increased in operations performed in the immediate aftermath of an intraoperative death, but survivors have longer stays in intensive care and on the hospital ward.

Comment in

PMID:
14734519
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC341385
Free PMC Article
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