7 emergency procedures account for 80% of deaths, costs

The costs of emergency surgery are soaring, but research published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery found that just seven procedures account for 80 percent of admissions, inpatient costs, complications and deaths.

The situation is a "looming catastrophe" as annual costs for emergency procedures are expected to reach more than $40 billion by 2060, and costs currently outstrip those of treating diabetes, myocardial infarctions and new cancer diagnoses, Martin G. Paul, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Medicine, wrote in a JAMA Surgery commentary.

"What is now a national burden will soon become a crisis," Paul wrote.

Researchers analyzed more than 421,000 patient records from a national database and discovered that the following procedures accounted for the vast majority of costs and complications: the removal of part of the colon, small-bowel resection, gallbladder removal, operations related to peptic ulcer disease, abdominal adhesions removal, appendectomy and other procedures that open the abdomen.

Researchers concluded that healthcare professionals would benefit from looking at quality benchmarks and cost-cutting strategies for those seven procedures.

"Given their high prevalence nationally and high proportion of burden they represent … the seven procedures identified in this study could lead to better clinical decision-making, patient outcomes and cost savings," the team wrote.

To learn more:
- read the study
- read the commentary

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