Differences Between Center-level Outcomes in Emergency and Elective General Surgery

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Center-level outcome metrics have long been tracked in elective surgery (ELS). Despite recent interest in measuring emergency general surgery (EGS) quality, centers are often compared based on elective or combined outcomes. Therefore, quality of care for emergency surgery specifically is unknown.

Methods: We extracted data on EGS and ELS patients from the 2016 State Inpatient Databases of Florida, New York, and Kentucky. Centers that performed >100 ELS and EGS operations were included. Risk-adjusted mortality, complication, and failure to rescue (FTR, death after complication) rates were calculated and observed-to-expected ratios were calculated by center for ELS and EGS patients. Centers were determined to be high or low outliers if the 90% CI for the observed: expected ratio excluded 1. We calculated the frequency with which centers demonstrated a different performance status between EGS and ELS. Kendall's tau values were calculated to assess for correlation between EGS and ELS status.

Results: A total of 204 centers with 45,500 EGS cases and 49,380 ELS cases met inclusion criteria. Overall mortality, complication, and FTR rates were 1.7%, 8.0%, and 14.5% respectively. There was no significant correlation between mortality performance in EGS and ELS, with 36 centers in a different performance category (high outlier, low outlier, as expected) in EGS than in ELS. The correlation for complication rates was 0.20, with 60 centers in different categories for EGS and ELS. For FTR rates, there was no correlation, with 16 centers changing category.

Conclusions: There was minimal correlation between outcomes for ELS and EGS. High performers in one category were rarely high performers in the other. There may be important differences between the processes of care that are important for EGS and ELS outcomes that may yield meaningful opportunities for quality improvement.