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Timely Surgery Appears to Cut Infection Risk, Costs

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Delaying elective surgery after a patient is admitted to the hospital increases the risk of complications from infections and results in higher hospital costs, according to a new study.

U.S. researchers looked at patients who developed postoperative infections following three common types of elective surgery: 87,318 coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures; 46,728 colon resections; and 28,960 lung resections.

The infections included pneumonia, urinary tract infections, postoperative sepsis and surgical site infections. For each type of surgery, infection rates were much lower when the procedure was performed on the day the patient was admitted to the hospital.

Infection rates after a coronary bypass graft were 5.7 percent when surgery was performed on the day of admission, compared with 18.2 percent when surgery was performed six to 10 days after admission. The rates after colon resection were 8.4 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively, and 10.2 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively, after lung resection.

The mean cost for all three procedures was also much lower when surgery was performed on the day of admission, compared with waiting a few days: CABG, $36,079 versus $47,527; colon resection, $20,265 versus $29,887; lung resection, $26,323 versus $30,571, according to the study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

"Multiple factors can contribute to postsurgical complications, including age and coexisting health issues. This analysis, however, confirms a direct correlation between delaying procedures and negative patient outcomes," lead author Dr. Todd R. Vogel, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said in a journal news release.

"As pay-for-performance models become increasingly prevalent, it will be imperative for hospitals to consider policies aimed at preventing delays and thereby reducing infection rates," Vogel added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about surgical site infections.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Surgeons, news release, Dec. 15, 2010

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