Transfer status: A significant risk factor for mortality in emergency general surgery patients requiring colon resection

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Patients requiring emergency surgery have increased rates of morbidity and mortality. Transfer from outside institution delays effective control of ongoing infection and has been linked with worse outcomes. Previous research suggests transfer status negatively impacts survival but has not examined the effect of location and type of institution prior to transfer. This study aims to characterize the effect of type of transferring institution on postoperative outcomes after emergency colon surgery.

METHODS

Data originated from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database from 2010 to 2012. Patients undergoing emergent colectomy were stratified based on location: not transferred, transferred from outside emergency department (ED), transferred from outside hospital inpatient unit, or transferred from a nursing home. Patient variables were stratified and compared via χ2 and analysis of variance. A backward-multivariable logistic regression and adjusted multivariate Cox regression analysis were performed to determine factors predicting 30-day mortality.

RESULTS

A total of 14,245 patients were identified, of whom 22% (3,203) were transfer patients. Among transfers, 48% (1,531) came from outside hospital inpatient units. Thirty-day mortality varied significantly (p < 0.001) among transfer location: 12.8% when not transferred, 19.4% from outside EDs, 25.7% from outside hospital inpatient units, and 34.2% from nursing homes. Hazard ratios were 1.30 (p < 0.001) after transfer from outside hospital inpatient ward and 1.50 (p < 0.001) after transfer from nursing home. Patients transferred from nursing homes were more likely to have septic shock (26.9% vs. 11.6%, p < 0.001) and longer hospitalizations (13 days vs. 10 days, p < 0.001) versus those not transferred.

CONCLUSION

Transfer status is an independent contributor to death in emergency general surgery patients undergoing colectomy. Patients transferred from an outside hospital ED, nursing home or chronic care facility have the poorest outcomes. These results reinforce the importance of rapid triage and transfer of patients with early physiologic decompensation to ensure timely surgical evaluation and intervention.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Prognostic, level III; Therapeutic, level IV.

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