How to reduce failure to rescue after visceral surgery?

J Visc Surg. 2021 Aug;158(4):317-325. doi: 10.1016/j.jviscsurg.2021.03.002. Epub 2021 Mar 15.


Mortality after visceral surgery has decreased owing to progress in surgical techniques, anesthesiology and intensive care. Mortality occurs in 5-10% of patients after major surgery and remains a topic of interest. However, the ratio of mortality after postoperative complications in relation to overall complications varies between hospitals because of failure to rescue at the time of the complication. There are multiple factors that lead to complication-related mortality: they are patient-related, disease-related, but are related, above all, to the timeliness of diagnosis of the complication, the organisational aspects of management in private or public hospitals, hospital volume that corresponds to the centralisation of initial management or to the concept of referral centre in case of complications, to the team spirit, to communication between the health care providers and to the management of the complication itself. Several organisational advances are to be considered, such as the development of shorter hospitalisations and notably ambulatory surgery, as well as enhanced recovery programs. Remote monitoring and the contribution of artificial intelligence must also be evaluated in this context. The reduction of mortality after visceral surgery rests on several tactics: prevention of potentially lethal complications, the all-important reduction of failure to rescue, and risk management before, during and after hospitalisations that are increasingly shorter.

Keywords: Failure to rescue; Mortality; Postoperative complications; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Failure to Rescue, Health Care*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control