UK hospital has 40 per cent death rate after abdominal ops

New research unearths shocking statistic while expert fears figures could be even worse elsewhere

More than four in 10 patients undergoing abdominal surgery at one hospital in the UK die within 30 days, according to figures described as "shocking" yesterday.

The death rate for the emergency surgery is 12 times higher than at the best performing hospital, where just one in 28 patients dies. But patients have no means of knowing which is the safer hospital, as the research does not name the trusts involved.

The findings, from the UK's first national audit of abdominal surgery, come as a separate study suggests death rates following all types of surgery are much higher than previously thought. The overall death rate after surgery in the UK is 3.6 per cent, more than double previous estimates, according to Queen Mary, University of London research in The Lancet.

Around 35,000 emergency abdominal operations are performed each year making it a common surgical procedure. Most patients are over 65 and often seriously ill with internal bleeding or a tear in the bowel wall.

Professor Mike Grocott, consultant anaesthetist at Southampton University, who is co-leading the audit, said: "These data are shocking and may reflect the wide variation in provision of care across UK hospitals, both in terms of availability of essential services and of consultant anaesthetists and surgeons who should be present to conduct these operations."

Evidence shows that death rates are lower when operations are performed by consultants and where patients have ready access to treatment in intensive care following surgery.

Professor Grocott said doctors at the hospital with the highest death rate would be aware of their poor performance and should be examining the reasons for it. But of even greater concern are hospitals that had not participated. The audit, to be presented to the annual congress of the Association of Anaesthetists today, was conducted among 1,800 patients at 35 hospitals who volunteered to submit data – leaving around 200 which did not.

"What's happening in the 200 hospitals that were not interested in collecting their data? One could speculate there may be some who are performing even worse," Professor Grocott said.

The 30-day mortality rate following abdominal surgery ranged from 3.6 per cent in the best performing hospital to 41.7 per cent in the worst. The audit was carried out at the request of surgeons and anaesthetists who said there was little data to drive improvement. Professor Grocott said it was possible the worst performing hospital treated older, sicker patients but "the magnitude of the difference is unlikely to be explained by these factors alone".

"It is very hard to understand that difference without reference to the quality of care," he added. A full audit of all hospitals performing the surgery in the UK will begin next year.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas