Hospital variation in mortality after emergent bowel resections: The role of failure-to-rescue

Ambar Mehta, David T. Efron, Kent Stevens, Mariuxi C. Manukyan, Bellal A Joseph, Joseph V. Sakran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Hospital variation in failure-to-rescue (FTR) rates has partially explained nationwide differences in mortality after elective surgeries. To examine the role of FTR among emergency general surgery, we compared nationwide risk-adjusted mortality, complications, and FTR rates after emergent bowel resections. METHODS We identified patients who underwent emergent small or large bowel resections in the 2010 to 2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample using the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma criteria. We then calculated risk-adjusted mortality rates for each hospital using multivariable logistic regressions and postestimation, which adjusted for patient age, sex, race and ethnicity, payer status, comorbidities, and hospital clustering. After excluding hospitals with fewer than 10 resections per year, we ranked the remaining hospitals by their risk-adjusted mortality rates and divided them into five quintiles. We compared both risk-adjusted complication rates and FTR rates between the top (lowest mortality) and bottom (highest mortality) quintiles. RESULTS We identified 21,564 emergent bowel resections, weighted to 105,925 procedures nationwide. The bottom quintile of hospitals had an overall risk-adjusted mortality rate that was 10.9 times higher than that of the top quintile of hospitals (15.3% vs. 1.4%). While risk-adjusted complication rates were similarly high for both the bottom and the top quintiles of hospitals (22.5% vs. 15.7%), the risk-adjusted FTR rates were 10.8 times higher in the bottom quintile of hospitals relative to the top quintile of hospitals (33.4% vs. 3.1%). Using larger hospital volume thresholds yielded similar findings. Furthermore, large variations existed in complication-specific FTR rates (surgical site infection [6.6%] to myocardial infarction [29.4%]). CONCLUSION Nationwide hospital variation in risk-adjusted mortality rates exist after emergent bowel resections. As complication rates were similar across hospitals, the significantly higher FTR rates at higher-mortality hospitals may drive this variation in mortality. System-level initiatives addressing the management of postoperative complications may improve patient care and reduce variation in outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-710
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Emergent bowel resections
  • complications
  • failure-to-rescue
  • mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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