Surgery mortality rates underestimated

New research shows twice as many people die after surgery in U.K. hospitals as previously thought, causing medical experts to worry the surgery death rate is higher in the U.S. as well, ABC News reported.

The study, published today in The Lancet, found that the overall risk of dying within two months of surgery 3.6 percent, more than double the previous 1.6 percent findings for dying within 30 days, reported The Telegraph.

Lead researcher Rupert Pearse noted that the fact that more patients died in the second month cannot account for the difference, as most deaths occur during the first seven to 10 days after surgery, The Telegraph reported.

At U.S. hospitals, the surgery death rate is 1.14 percent, according to ABC News. Although some experts wonder if similar research would bump up the figure.

"Compared to overall [death rates], the U.S. is probably better, but compared to [certain] individual countries, we're probably worse," David Penson, director of the Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research at the Vanderbilt Institute of Medicine and Public Health, told ABC News.  

Varying mortality rates between countries highlight the need for national and international strategies to improve care for surgical patients, the study states.

Such strategies could help reduce hospital readmissions, as about one in 10 general surgery patients return to the hospital, mostly due to postoperative complications, according to a study published in the September Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

For more:
- check out the study abstract
- read the ABC News article
- here's the Telegraph article