Failure to rescue: A quality indicator for postoperative care

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Postoperative complications occur despite optimal perioperative care and are an important driver of mortality after surgery. Failure to rescue, defined as death in a patient who has experienced serious complications, has emerged as a quality metric that provides a mechanistic pathway to explain disparities in mortality rates among hospitals that have similar perioperative complication rates. The risk of failure to rescue is higher after invasive surgical procedures and varies according to the type of postoperative complication. Multiple patient factors have been associated with failure to rescue. However, failure to rescue is more strongly correlated with hospital factors. In addition, microsystem factors, such as institutional safety culture, teamwork, and other attitudes and behaviors may interact with the hospital resources to effectively prevent patient deterioration. Early recognition through bedside and remote monitoring is the first step toward prevention of failure to rescue followed by rapid response initiatives and timely escalation of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-589
Number of pages15
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Anaesthesiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • escalation of care
  • failure to rescue
  • postoperative complications
  • postoperative mortality
  • rapid response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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