BACKGROUND: Emergency general surgery (EGS) is a high-volume and high-risk surgical service. Interhospital variation in EGS outcomes exists, but there is disagreement in the literature as to whether hospital admission volume affects in-hospital mortality. Scotland collects high-quality data on all admitted patients, whether managed operatively or nonoperatively. Our aim was to determine the relationship between hospital admission volume and in-hospital mortality of EGS patients in Scotland. Second, to investigate whether surgeon admission volume affects mortality.
METHODS: This national population-level cohort study included EGS patients aged 16 years and older, who were admitted to a Scottish hospital between 2014 and 2018 (inclusive). A logistic regression model was created, with in-hospital mortality as the dependent variable, and admission volume of hospital per year as a continuous covariate of interest, adjusted for age, sex, comorbidity, deprivation, surgeon admission volume, surgeon operative rate, transfer status, diagnosis, and operation category.
RESULTS: There were 376,076 admissions to 25 hospitals, which met our inclusion criteria. The EGS hospital admission rate per year had no effect on in-hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR], 1.000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.000-1.000). Higher average surgeon monthly admission volume increased the odds of in-hospital mortality (>35 admissions: OR, 1.139; 95% CI, 1.038-1.250; 25-35 admissions: OR, 1.091; 95% CI, 1.004-1.185; <25 admissions was the referent).
CONCLUSION: In Scotland, in contrast to other settings, EGS hospital admission volume did not influence in-hospital mortality. The finding of an association between individual surgeons' case volume and in-hospital mortality warrants further investigation.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Care management, Level IV.
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the eDRIS team (Public Health Scotland) for their involvement in obtaining approvals, provisioning and linking data and the use of the secure analytical platform within the National Safe Haven