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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1997 Sep;79(5):361-7.

An audit of hospital mortality after urgent and emergency surgery in the elderly.

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  • 1Royal United Hospital, Bath.


An audit was carried out of 102 patients aged over 75 years undergoing urgent or emergency surgery in a district general hospital. The risk of death in hospital after general surgery (13 deaths in 49 patients) was greater than after orthopaedic surgery (two deaths in 53 patients) (P < 0.05). In particular, laparotomy carried a high in-hospital mortality: 12 of 25 patients undergoing laparotomy died. Risk of death after general surgery increased with increasing preoperative ASA class, increasing medical risk factors and duration of operation. Orthopaedic cases were fitter than the general surgical cases as determined by ASA class and the number of medical risk factors. NCEPOD has recommended increased involvement of senior medical staff in operations, reduced night-time operating and avoidance of futile surgery. A high proportion of cases were operated on and anaesthetised by higher specialist trainees and consultants. Death rate was not affected by the seniority of doctors involved, nor by the time of day the operation took place. General surgical deaths were predictable postoperatively in most cases, but preoperative prediction of outcome was not specific enough to alter management.

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