Countless people face complications and various problems after surgery. Who should they go to in order to get treatment for these issues?

Reuters reports on the complications people face after surgery and where they should get treated. A study shows that these patients should go to the same hospital where they had the surgery.

Research shows that patients who go back to the same hospital where their surgery took place have a higher chance of surviving than patients who go to a different hospital. The fatality rates are higher for the latter versus the former.

Dr. Tsai, of the Harvard School of Public Health, led the study. He explained his results,

“Even when we accounted for how sick patients were, what type of hospital they went to, and how far they traveled for care, we still found that patients had higher mortality rates when they had post-operative care at a different facility.”

How was the study conducted?

Dr. Tsai and his colleagues analyzed data on more than 93,000 Medicare patients who had been re-hospitalized for complications after major surgery from January 2009 through November 2011.

Which types of surgery most commonly faced complications afterwards?

The surgeries that the study covered by the study are common among the elderly: coronary artery bypass grafting to improve blood flow to the heart, pulmonary lobectomy to remove diseased lung tissue, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair to strengthen a major blood vessel, colectomy to remove abnormal tissue from the colon, and hip replacement surgery.

What did the results show?

Around twenty-five percent of these elderly surgery patients got readmitted to a different hospital, but not the one where the operation was performed, according to the study. Even when the researchers took into account how far patients lived from the original hospital, so-called postsurgical care fragmentation was associated with a substantially higher risk of fatality.

Reuters explains, “After adjusting for all variables, including type of hospitals involved and the distances to both hospitals, patients were more likely to die within 30 days after surgery if they had complications treated at a different hospital. Specifically, those readmitted to the original hospital had a mortality rate of 4.1 percent, compared with 5.8 percent for those admitted to a different hospital, which translates to a 41 percent difference.”

Why were patients going to different hospitals than the one where they had surgery?

In many cases patients readmitted to a different hospital lived farther from the original facility than the one where they went for follow-up care, the researchers wrote in JAMA Surgery. Also, they were less probable to live in urban areas.

Were there any drawbacks to the study?

“One limitation of the study was the method of measuring the distances that patients traveled for care. The researchers used zip codes for the hospitals and patient homes, and didn`t account for variations in travel times. Another shortcoming was the use of claims data, which is designed for billing purposes and can exclude many specifics about the care patients receive, the researchers said,” according to Reuters.

Experts are saying that in order to avoid all issues, patients should not leave the hospital without a follow-up appointment scheduled and clear directions on who to call for help when complications or any type of problem relating to the surgery arises.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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