Introduction: Despite increasing evidence of the benefits and safety of early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in acute gallstone disease, it is not widely practised in England. The Royal College of Surgeons of England support the separation of emergency and elective surgical care. The aim of this prospective study was to examine the impact of the implementation of 'Surgeon of the Week (SoW)' model on the number of early LCs performed and the efficiency of the emergency theatre activity in our hospital. This study also looked into its implications on specialist registrar training for early LC, and the financial impact to the hospital.
Patients and methods: Between January 2007 and May 2008, demographic data, admission and discharge dates, complications, conversions to an open operation and deaths were collected for all patients who underwent early laparoscopic cholecystectomies. For ease of comparison, patients were divided into Group A representing before introduction of SoW (1 January 2007 to 30 August 2007) and Group B representing after introduction of SoW (1 October 2007 to 31 May 2008). The total numbers of operations performed in the emergency theatre list in the two groups were also calculated.
Results: A total of 1361 emergency operations were performed on the emergency theatre list in Group A, of which 951 were general surgical procedures. In Group B, the numbers of emergency procedures were 1537, of which 1138 were general surgical operations. There was a significant increase in the number of general surgical operations after introduction of SoW (P = 0.013). Before introduction of the SoW rota, 45 early LCs were performed. This increased to 118 after SoW which was significant (P < 0.001). In Group A, the number of early LCs performed by surgical trainees was 10 (22%). In Group B, the number of LCs performed by surgical trainees was 35 (30%; not significant).
Conclusions: This study has demonstrated an increase in the efficiency of the emergency theatre with an increase in the number of early LCs on their index admission without extra morbidity following implementation of the SOW model in our hospital. We recommend the introduction of a suitable emergency surgical consultant on-call model separating emergency and elective surgical care depending on local circumstances. This can lead to significant cost savings and reduce re-admissions with gallstone-related complications.