Posted on Aug 20, 2014

New research shows that various deaths that occur after urological surgeries are preventable.

Reuters reports on preventable fatalities that occur after urological surgeries.

Apparently the majority of deaths that occur after urological surgeries were due to human errors.

Urological surgery is getting more and more popular and surprisingly being performed outside of hospitals very often. But a new study shows that fatalities from preventable complications among men and women getting inpatient surgery have increased. It is probable that older, sicker and poorer people are the greater half of the population having inpatient surgery, not that the surgeries are getting more likely to kill, according to experts. They said the statistics depend on the person, this theory goes by a case to case basis.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Sammon, told Reuters, “Our present findings provide evidence of a major shift in the type of patients being admitted for urological surgery. Historically, a much larger proportion of relatively healthy urology patients were admitted for low-risk procedures.”

Dr. Sammon is an expert in the field. He is an urologist at the VUI Center for Outcomes Research Analytics and Evaluation. How was the study conducted?

Dr. Sammon and his coauthors utilized information on all hospital discharges of patients undergoing low-risk surgeries like transurethral resection of the prostate and bladder biopsy. This included around eight million surgeries between 1998 and 2010. Around two-thirds of the patients in the study were men.

What were the results of the study?

Reuters reports, “Hospital admissions decreased annually, and overall the risk of dying in the hospital was less than one percent. In-hospital deaths following urologic surgery stayed stable over the study period but deaths attributable to ‘failure to rescue’ following recognizable or preventable complications, increased 1.5 percent per year on average.”

What types of complications are preventable?

Issues that are recognizable or preventable complications include: sepsis, pneumonia, blood clots, shock or cardiac arrest. Also, researchers found that upper gastrointestinal bleeding during admission for surgery was also preventable.

Which patients were more likely to die due to complications?

Patients who already have a predisposition to getting sick or some other type of health issue were more likely to die as a result of the surgery. The typical types of patient in this range were older, sicker and minority patients or those with public insurance. Research showed that these patients are more likely to die as a result of a potentially preventable cause, according to the results published in BJU International journal.

Dr. Tan, a urology fellow at UCLA who was not involved in the study commented on the results saying,

“There’s a pretty wide variety of types of procedures here, but they tilt toward men because they include prostate procedures. Healthier patients being treated without being inpatients could be one explanation for the rise in inpatient deaths from complications, but it could also have to do with an increasing emphasis on coding and accounting for complications that could lead to mortality over the period of the study. Making surgery safer down the road will really involve being aware of complications that have the highest risk of downstream issues, morbidity and death.”

Experts are saying that these results do not mean that patients have to be frightened of outpatient urological procedures. But they are emphasizing the importance of checking the surgeon’s fatality rates and years of experience before finalizing the operation with them.

Dr. Sammon suggests,

“For urology patients the rate of both in-hospital mortality and (failure to rescue) are lower than for the overall surgical population. That said, while improvements in mortality and (failure to rescue) mortality are being made in the overall surgical population that is not the case for urology patients.”

The experts also suggest that patients should generally be told to find care at medical institutions that perform a high number of whatever procedure they require whether this is breast surgery, urological surgery or any other type of operation. They acknowledge the fact that this could possibly mean more travel is required but one cannot compromise when it comes to their health, and particularly in a situation that could be life or death. 

To learn about a patient who died after NYC surgeon failed to give blood thinner after urological surgery, I invite you to watch the video below...


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Gerry Oginski
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