In a paper widely reported on BBC News today, the Royal College of Surgeons of England has raised the subject of how well the NHS looks after vulnerable patients requiring emergency general surgery. The report compares the higher profile cardiac patient with the general surgery patient and concludes that the latter suffers mortality rates three times that of cardiac patients, with complication rates of 50% “not uncommon”. The report states that; “Evidence indicates that the peri-operative pathway followed by patients requiring emergency surgical management is frequently disjointed, protracted and not always patient centred.”
Not only is this a concern for patients, but the economic consequences of suboptimal treatment regimes are significant, with emergency surgery and unscheduled management of complications being common. These patients are among the highest consumers of critical care resources, themselves among the most expensive services provided by healthcare providers.
The report suggests that patient pathways should be reviewed with a view to improvement, stating that; “Trusts should formalise their clinical pathway for this group of patients, ensuring that risk of further deterioration is matched with urgency of diagnostic tests, seniority of clinician in decision making, timing of surgery and appropriate clinical location for immediate post-operative care.”
Reassuringly the report suggests that necessary changes could be implemented within two years. To read the full report click here.
Sources: medlatest staff, Royal College of Surgeons