May 26, 2016 – Seven Surgeries


Anchor lead: Just a few surgeries top the list for emergencies and deaths, Elizabeth Tracey reports

A mere seven operations top the list for common procedures performed as emergencies, and also account for 80 percent of deaths, costs relative to the procedure, and complications, a recent study in JAMA Surgery found.  Robert Higgins, director of surgery at Johns Hopkins, interprets the results.

Higgins: If you have a medical condition that brings you to the emergency room and it requires emergency surgery in an expedited or a relatively short period of time you may be sicker than someone who needs an elective operation, where it’s well planned and scheduled and you’re prepared emotionally and physiologically to go through this surgery.  So it confirms what I think what common sense would say, emergency surgery is more dangerous, and yet it may be necessary, because the patients are that much more sick.   :28

Higgins says one procedure, appendectomy, is noteworthy because increasing evidence suggests it may be treated with medication rather than surgery, an approach that needs further study. He says for now, choosing an experienced surgeon and team is likely the best strategy to reduce harms.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.