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 emergency general 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 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).

Our Conclusions

The study highlights doctors must keep sharp eyes on these cases, due to the status and sheer number of these patients. No doubt about it, emergency room doctors and emergency surgeons have a tough job. But they’ve got to do it right.

If you lost a loved one or suffered extreme complications from an operation, send us an email to tell us your story to start a conversation about your legal options.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a criminal defense attorney.
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