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Surgical operation complications: study says return to original provider/facility

According to a recent study led by a researcher from the University of Utah School of Medicine, patients who suffer from complications after a surgery do best to return to the hospital where the surgery occurred rather than having the problem addressed somewhere else. The study said that returning to the facility where the surgery occurred reduced the risk of death over the following two months.

The basis for the finding makes sense: the providers who performed the surgery are going to have more familiarity with the area operated on and how the procedure turned out, specifically whether there were any complications, and how to best address these when they arise. Physicians who don’t understand the factors connected to a surgical complication are not always going to be able to address the issue as well, which can affect patient’s outcome. 

Part of the benefit of returning to the hospital where the surgery was performed is practical in nature. According to the study, patients returning because of surgical complications tend to get admitted more quickly than at facilities where the surgery did not occur. Addressing a serious complication sooner rather than later is going to have clear benefits.

How frequently do patients with surgical complications go to another facility to have the problem addressed? From the looks of the study, it may be up to half of patients. Those who do return to the hospital where they had the surgery were 26 percent less likely to die within three months of the operation.

When a surgical patient experiences serious complications that lead to significant harm or death, of course, one of the questions that needs to be asked is whether providers acted appropriately in performing the surgery and addressing those complications. In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about this and how the issue can ripen into a medical malpractice claim.

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