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Study Links Post-Op Deaths to Hospital Response

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Would you go to a hospital if you saw that it had more surgical complications than average? Complications are bad _ right? Maybe you should re-think that decision.

A new study shows that the number of surgical complications is not as important as whether the Post-Op care is responsive to complications.

In a New York Times report, 84,730 patients who underwent surgery at 186 hospitals were analyzed:

The rate of deaths at the hospitals varied from 3.5 percent to 6.9 percent. But between hospitals with high and low death rates, there was only a slight difference in the number of complications, suggesting that the significant difference was in how the complications were handled.

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers reported that:

“A lot of current policies are focused on minimizing complications, and that’s helpful,” Dr. Ghaferi said, but added, “It really behooves us to look at what hospitals are doing once they encounter a complication with a patient in a post surgical setting.”

Look for a good hospital and look at their level of staffing. Many injuries suffered by surgical patients are not malpractice. They are unavoidable medical errors. At an understaffed hospital that does have the staffing or expertise to respond to post surgical situations is the patient’s greatest risk. Read anything by Martine Ehrenclou and you will learn how to protect yourself or a loved one from injury or death.

See: America’s Best Hospitals Rankings and Honor Roll 2009