Objective: To analyse the consequences of postoperative complications in 1418 surgical patients.
Design: Prospective descriptive study.
Setting: St. Elisabeth Hospital in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Method: In the period 1986-1992 all postoperative complications and their consequences occurring during or after the clinical treatment of surgical patients were registered.
Results: In 5% of the 28,485 surgical procedures (= 1418 patients) postoperative complications were found. To treat these complications, 577 patients had to be reoperated on, 233 patients several times, and generally because of postoperative infections. Readmission after discharge was necessary in 310 patients for treatment of their complications. Mean hospital stay for all patients was 10 days, as against 21 days in patients with postoperative complications. On the basis of the figures recorded, quality enhancing measures were taken, e.g. regarding antibiotic prophylaxis and wound treatment.
Conclusion: The consequences of postoperative complications are considerable. With respect to quality control in health care it is important to develop national registration and documentation of surgical complications.