Implementation of a novel emergency surgical unit significantly improves the management of gallstone pancreatitis

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Emergency surgery is changing rapidly with a greater workload, early subspecialisation and centralisation of emergency care. We describe the impact of a novel emergency surgical unit (ESU) on the definitive management of patients with gallstone pancreatitis (GSP).


A comparative audit was undertaken for all admissions with GSP before and after the introduction of the ESU over a six-month period. The impact on compliance with British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) guidelines was assessed.


Thirty-five patients were treated for GSP between December 2013 and May 2014, after the introduction of the ESU. This was twice the nationally reported average for a UK trust over a six-month period. All patients received definitive management for their GSP and 100% of all suitable patients received treatment during the index admission or within two weeks of discharge. This was a significantly greater proportion than that prior to the introduction of the ESU (57%, p=0.0001) as well as the recently reported national average (34%). The mean length of total inpatient stay was reduced significantly after the ESU was introduced from 13.7 ± 4.7 days to 7.8 ± 2.1 days (p=0.03). The mean length of postoperative stay also fell significantly from 6.7 ± 2.6 days to 1.8 ± 0.8 days (p=0.001).


A dedicated ESU following national recommendations for emergency surgery care by way of using dedicated emergency surgeons and a streamlined protocol for common presentations has been shown by audit of current practice to significantly improve the management of patients presenting to a busy district general hospital with GSP.

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