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Delaying emergency surgeries increases deaths

 
  • Report showed the high figure for serious injuries or life-threatening conditions
  • Applied to conditions such as appendicitis, aneurysm or hip fractures
  • Overall, patients delayed beyond their condition’s standard target had 5% risk 
  • This is compared to a 3.2% risk for those whose surgeries weren’t delayed
  • Hospitals in England cancelled 4,093 urgent procedures during 2016 

Claudia Tanner For Mailonline

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Patients whose emergency surgeries are delayed have a higher risk of death, new research reveals.

Cancellation of urgent operations for serious injuries or life-threatening conditions 60 per cent increased chance of not pulling thorough compared to those who had them on time.

These included conditions such as appendicitis, aneurysm or hip fractures say the researchers.

The Canadian study showed that overall, patients who didn’t get into the emergency room within a standard time frame for their condition had an almost five per cent risk of dying, compared to a 3.2 per cent risk for those whose surgeries weren’t delayed.

On average, delayed-surgery patients also stayed in hospital after their operation 1.1 days longer.  

The news comes after figures show hospitals in England cancelled a record number of urgent operations last year as bed shortages left them struggling to cope with the growing number of patients needing surgery. 

In 86 per cent of those cases where a reason was given for delay, resource issues such as staff or operating room availability were the cause, according to the new research

In 86 per cent of those cases where a reason was given for delay, resource issues such as staff or operating room availability were the cause, according to the new research

In 86 per cent of those cases where a reason was given for delay, resource issues such as staff or operating room availability were the cause, according to the new research

The new study was conducted at The Ottawa Hospital, one of Canada’s largest hospitals – but has universal implications, says the study authors.

‘Delays in emergency surgeries are a problem around the world,’ said Dr Alan Forster, senior scientist at hospital.

‘This study adds to the evidence suggesting timely access to the [operating room] is important from both the patient and care provider perspectives.’ 

How the research was carried out

Researchers identified 15,160 emergency surgery patients and found that almost 19 per cent did not reach the operating room within that time frame. 

In 86 per cent of those cases with documented reasons for delay, resource issues such as staff or operating room availability were the cause.

‘We found that most delays were due to system issues, like physician, nurse and operating room unavailability,’ said Dr Daniel McIsaac, an associate scientist at the Hospital.  

These findings are consistent with evidence from other countries that delays are often due to system factors, the team noted. 

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Record high for urgent operations cancelled 

The findings are highly concerning given that hospitals in England cancelled 4,093 urgent procedures during 2016 – equivalent to 341 per month. 

This was 8 per cent more than the 3,777 operations called off in 2015 and up by 27 per cent on the 3,216 such operations scrapped during 2014.

While some cancellations occur because of a change in a patient’s health, the vast majority are due to lack of resources – hospitals having too few beds, especially in intensive care or high-dependency units.

A few involve staff shortages or a surgeon unexpectedly being unavailable, the data, published by NHS England shows.

The figures mean 17,598 patients have had their urgent surgery cancelled over the past five years, often at the last minute, despite their condition requiring surgery without delay.

Health campaigners argue the news showed problems in the health service were deepening and the Government was not sufficiently funding the NHS to keep up with rising demand for treatment. 

BURNT OUT NHS STAFF ARE TAKING MORE SICK DAYS THAN EVER

NHS staff are taking more sick days than ever, costing the tax-payer several billions through almost 17 million lost days a year.

Since 2012, the number of absences due to illness has risen by 6 per cent, according to a House of Commons written answer from the health minister Philip Dunne.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said nurses are increasingly feeling burnt out, blaming widespread staff shortages across the NHS and years of below-inflation pay rises.

Last month, experts spoke of fears of an NHS staffing crisis looming as figures showed the numbers of EU nurses registering to work in the UK has plunged.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are a main reason for NHS staff taking time off, as well as back pain.

In England in 2016, health service personnel took a total of 16,866,471 sick days off work – 895,979 more days than the 15,970,492 which the NHS lost in 2012.

The trend is likely to raise the NHS’s already hefty bill for staff sickness, which cost an estimated £2.4bn a year in 2015, or one pound for every £40 it spends.

  

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