Distribution of emergency operations and trauma in a Swedish hospital: need for reorganisation of acute surgical care?
Unit for Acute Care Surgery and Trauma, Department of Surgery, Linköping University Hospital, S-581 85, Linköping, Sweden
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2012, 20:66 doi:10.1186/1757-7241-20-66Published: 17 September 2012
Subspecialisation within general surgery has today reached further than ever. However, on-call time, an unchanged need for broad surgical skills are required to meet the demands of acute surgical disease and trauma. The introduction of a new subspecialty in North America that deals solely with acute care surgery and trauma is an attempt to offer properly trained surgeons also during on-call time. To find out whether such a subspecialty could be helpful in Sweden we analyzed our workload for emergency surgery and trauma.
Linköping University Hospital serves a population of 257 000. Data from 2010 for all patients, diagnoses, times and types of operations, surgeons involved, duration of stay, types of injury and deaths regarding emergency procedures were extracted from a prospectively-collected database and analyzed.
There were 2362 admissions, 1559 emergency interventions; 835 were mainly abdominal operations, and 724 diagnostic or therapeutic endoscopies. Of the 1559 emergency interventions, 641 (41.1%) were made outside office hours, and of 453 minor or intermediate procedures (including appendicectomy, cholecystectomy, or proctological procedures) 276 (60.9%) were done during the evenings or at night. Two hundred and fifty-four patients were admitted with trauma and 29 (11.4%) required operation, of whom general surgeons operated on eight (3.1%). Thirteen consultants and 11 senior registrars were involved in 138 bowel resections and 164 cholecystectomies chosen as index operations for standard emergency surgery. The median (range) number of such operations done by each consultant was 6 (3–17) and 6 (1–22). Corresponding figures for senior registrars were 7 (0–11) and 8 (1–39).
There was an uneven distribution of exposure to acute surgical problems and trauma among general surgeons. Some were exposed to only a few standard emergency interventions and most surgeons did not operate on a single patient with trauma. Further centralization of trauma care, long-term positions at units for emergency surgery and trauma, and subspecialisation in the fields of emergency surgery and trauma, might be options to solve problems of low volumes.