Seven Emergency Surgeries that May Cost Everything

According to the Washington Post, more than 3 million emergency room patients undergo a surgical procedure each year in the United States. These surgeries range in severity and expediency, but all come with a risk of complication. This risk is something that all patients must be made aware of before electing or agreeing to the surgery. Some of the risks are unavoidable, while others are caused by preventable mistakes.

The JAMA Network claims that more than half a million patients undergo urgent or emergent general surgery operations annually in the United States that account for more than $6 billion in annual costs. The Washington Post additionally reported that only seven types of emergency surgeries account for “80% of all admissions, deaths, complications, and inpatient costs … ”

Citing a study from the JAMA Network, the Huffington Post reported on the particulars of their findings. According to the study, the seven emergency medical procedures that contribute to such a high percentage of deaths and costs are:

  • Removal of part of the colon
  • Gallbladder removal
  • Appendectomies
  • Small bowel resection
  • Peptic ulcer surgeries
  • Abdominal adhesion surgeries
  • Abdominal area operations

All of the above medical procedures cover the repair or removal of parts of the gastrointestinal tract. These types of surgeries can result in various complications, including:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Infections
  • Adhesion
  • Shock or paralytic ileus

JAMA’s study found that as many as 15% of all patients undergoing such gastrointestinal tract operations must be re-admitted to a hospital within one month of their surgery. Complications from these types of surgeries can be very serious and life-threatening and must be monitored carefully.

Should issues arise from a surgery that were caused by a deviation from the required standard of care during or after surgery, the medical professional responsible may be held liable for medical malpractice. According to Medical Malpractice Help, medical malpractice is acknowledged as a major cause of death and serious injury in the United States. In fact, it may be the third largest cause of death in the nation.

For individuals who recover from surgery, many are faced with overwhelming medical bills. Martin G. Paul, a doctor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, referred to the issue of medical costs a “looming catastrophe,” and that annual costs are projected to climb to more than $40 billion by the year 2060.

JAMA’s study concluded by stating the need for increased attention to the medical care and practice related to these emergency surgeries. In addition, something must be done regarding the climbing costs of health care overall, and especially the increased costs related to emergency care.

However, the public health policy has been slow to address the issue partly because emergency general surgeries are considered too difficult to characterize and measure. The nature of the surgeries encompasses a diverse range of injuries, conditions, and diseases with the only commonality being their urgent nature.

It is clear that more must be done to remedy the issues presented by JAMA’s findings, but it is a great start to awareness of the seriousness of the issue.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.