Patient-tracking database shows promise for emergency general surgery

A patient-tracking database geared toward emergency general surgery would improve patient outcomes and create a resource for studying outcomes, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The database would follow a model similar to that of the National Trauma Data Bank, according to the study's authors.

One such database already has been created and implemented at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. The registry uses ICD-9 codes to identify EGS patients, which ultimately would be updated to ICD-10 codes for the October 2013 conversion.

For the study, researchers reviewed EGS admissions over a nine month period from January to September 2009. Out of 959 admissions, more than 300 were identifiable using ICD-9 diagnosis codes.

"The ICD-9 codes for these diagnoses established a definition of EGS patients and defined the principal reason why a patient was admitted to the EGS service," the authors wrote. "The codes capture both operative and nonoperative EGS patients, and therefore, the need for, or potential to require, an emergency procedure."

The most common diagnoses identified using the codes were intestinal obstruction (143 patients), hernia repair (132 patients) and gall bladder disease (129 patients).

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract
- read this related announcement