Hospital-based surgery delays boost infection risks

Delays that occur after an elective surgery patient arrives at the hospital can lead to increased risk of infectious complications and higher hospital costs, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Upon looking at data on patients who developed post operative complications after coronary bypass grafts, colon resections, or lung resections, researchers found that infection rates were higher for those surgeries performed.

Longer delays in elective surgery were related to higher increases in infection rates. For example, for colon resections:

  • A delay of less than a day led to an 8.4 percent total infection rate.
  • A one day delay led to an 11.9 percent infection rate.
  • Delays of two to five days increased the infection rate to 15.8 percent.
  • Six to 10 days delays meant a 21.6 percent infection rate.

Certain demographics were associated with higher likelihood of delayed surgery, including:

  • Patients ages 80 or older
  • Females, black or Hispanics
  • Those who had comorbidities (for example, congestive heart failure, chronic pulmonary disease and renal failure).

The mean cost after all procedures with delays rose: from $25,000 to $42,000 for coronary artery bypass grafts (CABGs); from $13,700 to $25,300 for colon resections; and from $18,500 to $25,000 for lung resections.

Future policy that aims to prevent in-hospital delays of elective surgery could yield cost savings and cut infectious complications after elective surgery, the authors write.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract from the Journal of the American College of Surgeons
- here's's article

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