Post-surgical inpatient deaths plummet

Although hospitals performed more surgeries between 1996 and 2006, the number of inpatient post-surgical deaths dropped significantly, according to an analysis of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which covers approximately 20 percent of U.S. hospitals, in the February issue of Surgery.

Inpatient post-surgical deaths within 30 days of admission dropped from 1.68 percent in 1996 to 1.32 percent in 2006, according to the study. In 2006, mortality significantly dropped for 15 of the 21 procedures with the most deaths in 1996.

What's more, the inpatient 30-day mortality rate for patients who suffered a complication fell from 12.10 percent to 9.84 percent.

Patients who had a higher risk for poorer outcomes, the lowest income, emergent admissions and Medicare coverage all saw declines in inpatient deaths within 30 days of admission, reported Medscape Today.

According to the study authors, "The decline in the number of deaths may have occurred through reduced mortality of individual procedures, reductions in the volume of high-risk procedures, and the rescue of patients who had a complication," according to the Medscape article.

The authors acknowledged that the mortality decrease may be due, in part, to "premature discharge as opposed to an actual improvement in survival," the article noted. Therefore, the authors recommend additional research to identify the underlying causes.

For more information:
- read the Medscape article (registration required)
- check out the study abstract