Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of a centralised upper-gastrointestinal haemorrhage (UGIH) unit.
Methods: The UK Audit of acute UGIH resulted in the formulation of a simple numerical scoring system. The Rockall score categorises patients by risk factors for death and allows case-mix comparisons. A total of 900 consecutive patients admitted to a UGIH unit between October 1995 and July 1998 were analysed prospectively. Patients were given an initial Rockall score and, if endoscopy was performed, a complete score. This method of risk stratification allowed the proportion of deaths (in our study) to be compared with the National Audit using risk standardised mortality ratios.
Results: The distribution of both initial and final Rockall scores was significantly higher in our study than in the National Audit. A total of 73 (8.1%) patients died, compared with the National Audit mortality of 14%. Risk-standardised mortality ratios using both initial and complete Rockall scores were significantly lower in our study when compared with those in the National Audit.
Conclusion: A specialised UGIH unit is associated with a lower proportion of deaths from UGIH, despite comprising a greater number of high-risk patients than the National Audit. This lower mortality therefore cannot be attributed to a more favourable case mix and demonstrates that further improvements in mortality for UGIH can be made.