Emergency general surgery in geriatric patients: A statewide analysis of surgeon and hospital volume with outcomes

Ambar Mehta, Linda A. Dultz, Bellal Joseph, Joseph K. Canner, Kent Stevens, Christian Jones, Elliott R. Haut, David T. Efron, Joseph V. Sakran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Geriatric patients undergoing emergency general surgery (EGS) face significant morbidity and mortality. We assessed how surgeon and hospital volumes affected these outcomes. METHODS We identified patients at least 65 years old in Maryland's Health Services Cost Review Commission database from 2012 to 2014 who underwent one of 12 EGS procedures, as defined by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and then calculated four outcomes: mortality rate, the incidence of at least one of eight common in-hospital EGS complications, failure-To-rescue (death after experiencing a postoperative complication), and the 30-day readmission rate. Median annual volumes of geriatric-EGS procedures divided both surgeons and hospitals into two groups (low volume and high volume). Multivariable logistic regressions calculated associations between the volume groups and outcomes after adjusting for patient, surgeon, and hospital factors, and hospital clusters. RESULTS We identified 3,832 patients who had an EGS procedure by 302 surgeons (median: 8 geriatric-EGS/year, IQR: 3-18) at 44 hospitals (median: 82 geriatric-EGS/year, IQR: 35-132). While operating on 16.5% of all geriatric-EGS patients, low-volume surgeons had higher risk-Adjusted adverse outcomes: mortality (7.0% vs. 4.0%, p = 0.005), in-hospital complications (22.1% vs. 19.7%, p = 0.13), failure-To-rescue (17.3% vs. 12.1%, p = 0.021), and 30-day readmissions (11.2% vs. 10.0%, p = 0.55). After adjustment, low-volume surgeons were associated with higher mortality (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.86, 95% CI [1.21-2.86]) and failure-To-rescue rates (aOR 1.74 [1.09-2.80]) but not in-hospital complications (aOR 1.20 [0.95-1.51]) or 30-day readmissions (aOR 1.07 [0.85-1.34]). In contrast, low-volume hospitals relative to high-volume hospitals, and hospitals serving lower proportions of geriatric-EGS patients, were not associated with adverse outcomes. CONCLUSION Relative to their higher-volume counterparts, surgeons performing eight or fewer geriatric-EGS procedures annually were associated with an 86% higher odds of death and 74% higher odds of failure-To-rescue in this elderly EGS patient population. These findings underscore the need for focused care of elderly surgical patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic and epidemiological, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-875
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Emergency general surgery
  • geriatrics
  • outcomes
  • surgeon volume
  • volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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