Background: Quality improvement efforts have demonstrated considerable hospital-to-hospital variation in surgical outcomes. However, information about the quality of emergency surgical care is lacking. The objective of this study was to assess whether hospitals have comparable outcomes for emergency and nonemergency operations. Study Design: Patients undergoing colorectal resections were identified from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) 2005 to 2007 dataset. Logistic regression models for 30-day morbidity and mortality after emergency and nonemergency colorectal resections were constructed. Hospital risk-adjusted outcomes as measured by observed to expected (O/E) ratios, outlier status, and rank-order differences were compared. Results: Of 25,710 nonemergency colorectal resections performed at 142 ACS NSQIP hospitals, 6,138 (23.9%) patients experienced at least 1 complication, and 492 (1.9%) patients died. There were 5,083 emergency colorectal resections; 2,442 (48%) patients experienced at least 1 complication, and 780 (15.3%) patients died. Outcomes for nonemergency versus emergency operations were weakly correlated for morbidity and mortality (Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.28 versus 0.13). Median differences in hospital rankings based on O/E ratios between nonemergency and emergency performance were 30.5 ranks (interquartile range [IQR] 13 to 59) for morbidity and 34 ranks (interquartile ratio 17 to 61) for mortality. Conclusions: Hospitals with favorable outcomes after nonemergency colorectal resections do not necessarily have similar outcomes for emergency operations. Hospitals should specifically examine their performance on emergency surgical procedures to identify quality improvement opportunities and focus quality improvement efforts appropriately.
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