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New report calls for recovery units to boost surgery survival rates

Hospitals could improve survival rates following major surgery by streamlining their critical care units, according to a new report launched today at a London conference. As well as saving lives, hospitals could save an estimated 2 million each by implementing some of the report's key recommendations to help reduce hospital stay times.

The report, "Modernising Care for Patients Undergoing Major Surgery", argues that a simple set of measures could reduce the number of complications following surgery along with the average length of hospital stay. Measures such as 'fast-tracking' more patients through intensive care units (ICU) and using exercise to assess and improve patients' fitness could also improve overall mortality rates, currently around 20,000 deaths per year out of the 3 million surgical operations performed.

The Improving Surgical Outcomes Group behind the report, led by consultants from University College London (UCL), St George's Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, University College London Hospital and Lewisham Hospital, says that at present an estimated one per cent of NHS patients undergoing major surgery go on to ICU or high dependency units (HDU), where evidence suggests that around 35 per cent of patients would benefit from a HDU setting and around 15 per cent require an ICU. The report recommends introducing post-surgery overnight recovery units into more hospitals.

The report also recommends the adoption of methods like cardio-pulmonary exercise testing (CPX), not commonly used at present within the NHS, as more reliable methods of assessing a patient's fitness and associated risks for surgery. For some patients, the risk of death following surgery is greater than the risk of death from the underlying condition.

Some patients who suffer from dehydration go on to develop complications. The report argues that this can be avoided with fluid and electrolyte replacement procedures and a process known as haemodynamic optimisati
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Contact: Jenny Gimpel
j.gimpel@ucl.ac.uk
44-207-679-9739
University College London
23-Jun-2005


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