A practical risk scale for predicting morbidity and mortality in the emergency general surgical setting: A prospective multi-center study

Int J Surg. 2018 Dec:60:236-244. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2018.11.023. Epub 2018 Nov 24.


Background: Low albumin is a prognostic factor associated with poor surgical outcomes. We aimed to examine the predicative ability of easily obtainable point-of-care variables in combination, to derive a practical risk scale for predicting older adults at risk of poor outcomes on admission to the emergency general surgical setting.

Methods: This is an international multi-center prospective cohort study conducted as part of the Older Persons Surgical Outcomes Collaboration (www.OPSOC.eu). The effect of having hypoalbuminemia (defined as albumin ≤3.5 g/dL) on selected outcomes was examined using fully adjusted multivariable models. In a subgroup of patients with hypoalbuminemia, we observed four risk characteristics (Male, Anemia, Low albumin, Eighty-five and over [MALE]). Subsequently, the impact of incremental increase in MALE score (each characteristic scoring 1 point (maximum score 4) on measured outcomes was assessed.

Results: The cohort consisted of 1406 older patients with median (IQR) age of 76 (70-83) years. In fully adjusted models, hypoalbuminemia was significantly associated with undergoing emergency surgery (1.32 (95%CI 1.03-1.70); p = 0.03), 30-day mortality (4.23 (2.22-8.08); p < 0.001), 90-day mortality (3.36 (2.14-5.28); p < 0.001) (primary outcome), and increased hospital length of stay, irrespective of whether a patient received emergency surgical intervention. Every point increase in MALE score was associated with higher odds of mortality, with a MALE score of 4 being associated with 30-day mortality (adjusted OR(95% CI) = 33.38 (3.86-288.7); p = 0.001) and 90-day mortality (11.37 (3.85-33.59); p < 0.001) compared to the reference category of those with MALE score 0.

Conclusions: The easy to use and practical MALE risk score calculated at point of care identifies older adults at a greater risk of poor outcomes, thereby allowing clinicians to prioritize patients who may benefit from early comprehensive geriatric assessment in the emergency general surgical setting.

Keywords: Emergency surgical admissions; Hypoalbuminemia; Increased length of hospital stay; Mortality; Older adults; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergencies*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Hypoalbuminemia / mortality*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / mortality*