Causes of death after emergency general surgical admission: population cohort study of mortality

G Ramsay* (Corresponding Author), J M Wohlgemut, M Bekheit, A J M Watson, J O Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: A substantial number of patients treated in emergency general surgery (EGS) services die within a year of discharge. The aim of this study was to analyse causes of death and their relationship to discharge diagnoses, in patients who died within 1 year of discharge from an EGS service in Scotland.

METHODS: This was a population cohort study of all patients with an EGS admission in Scotland, UK, in the year before death. Patients admitted to EGS services between January 2008 and December 2017 were included. Data regarding patient admissions were obtained from the Information Services Division in Scotland, and cross-referenced to death certificate data, obtained from the National Records of Scotland.

RESULTS: Of 507 308 patients admitted to EGS services, 7917 died while in hospital, and 52 094 within 1 year of discharge. For the latter, the median survival time was 67 (i.q.r. 21-168) days after EGS discharge. Malignancy accounted for 48 per cent of deaths and was the predominant cause of death in patients aged over 35 years. The cause of death was directly related to the discharge diagnosis in 56.5 per cent of patients. Symptom-based discharge diagnoses were often associated with a malignancy not diagnosed on admission.

CONCLUSION: When analysed by subsequent cause of death, EGS is a cancer-based specialty. Adequate follow-up and close links with oncology and palliative care services merit development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzrab021
Number of pages9
JournalBJS Open
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: This study was funded by the NHS Highland Endowments fund.


  • cancer
  • cause of death
  • scotland
  • diagnosis
  • mortality
  • general surgery
  • emergency surgical procedure


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