An April 2016 study published in an American Medical Association journal discloses an astounding fact. Just seven procedures account for 80% of deaths and 79% of complications related to general emergency surgery. Emergency general surgery cares for some of our most fragile people, often high-risk patients with severe symptoms. Every year, over three million of these folks get admitted to U.S. hospitals for this care. That’s more than all new cancer diagnoses.

The study results from an extensive review of an enormous amount of data. Doctor Joaquim Havens led a research team who scoured medical records for 2008–2011 from a national database. The study includes as emergency care adult patients who had operations within two days of admission.

The team identified 421,476 patients who had emergency surgery. Here’s the frightening result.

Most dangerous emergency surgeries 

The procedures causing four of five deaths and complications for emergency care are, in no particular order:

  • Partial colon removal.
  • Small bowel resection (removal of all or part of a small bowel).
  • Gallbladder removal.
  • Peptic ulcer surgery to repair ulcers in the stomach or first part of small intestine.
  • Removal of peritoneal (abdominal) adhesions (scar tissue).
  • Appendectomy.
  • Laparotomy (opening the abdomen).

Why are these surgeries so deadly?

Any medical procedure comes with risks, but some are riskier than others. Many of the procedures in this list are done on an emergency basis, meaning the patient was already ill, and their condition caused other complications. Additionally, any surgery done on the digestive tract has a great risk of infections, sepsis, tears, and other complications. 

The study highlights the great risk in relatively common procedures. Doctors must keep a sharp eye on these cases due to the risks and sheer number of these patients. Emergency room doctors and emergency surgeons have tough jobs, but they also have a duty to their patients to make good choices.

Should you contact an attorney if you or a loved one suffered complications after surgery?

Medical malpractice cases arise when a doctor deviates from the proper standard of care. Most hospital deaths or injuries are NOT related to medical malpractice, so you most likely don't need to contact an attorney right away. If you believe the doctor ignored the patient's symptoms, used the wrong treatments, or was otherwise negligent leading to injuries or death, you will want to contact a medical malpractice attorney.

How to contact a Spartanburg wrongful death attorney

If a family member died or you suffered extreme complications from an operation in South Carolina, you may qualify for a medical malpractice wrongful death or injury settlement. Get your questions answered in a free, no-pressure strategy session with a Spartanburg, SC personal injury attorney. Call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.


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