Emergency General Surgery Transfer and Effect on Inpatient Mortality and Post-Discharge Emergency Department Visits: A Propensity Score Matched Analysis.J Am Coll Surg. 2022 05 01; 234(5):737-746.JA
Patients undergoing emergency general surgery (EGS) and interhospital transfer (IHT) have increased mortality. Prior analyses of IHT have been limited by the inability to track post-discharge outcomes or have not included nonoperative EGS. We evaluated outcomes for IHT to our tertiary care facility compared with direct admission through the emergency department.
Patients admitted directly (2015 to 2017) with a common EGS diagnosis (appendicitis, cholecystitis, choledocholithiasis, small bowel obstruction, and diverticulitis) were propensity score matched to patients transferred from another acute care hospital. Propensity score matching (PSM) was performed using patient characteristics, EGS diagnosis, comorbidities, and surgical critical care consultation. The primary outcome was inpatient mortality, and secondary outcomes were length of stay (LOS) 30-day hospital readmission.
We identified 3,153 directly admitted patients and 1,272 IHT patients. IHT patients were older (mean 59.4 vs 51.5 years), had a higher Charlson comorbidity index (median 3 vs 1), White race (72% vs 49%), and BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 (11.6% vs 9.8%). After PSM, each group included 1,033 patients. IHT patients had a higher median LOS (5.5 days vs 3.8, p < 0.001), higher inpatient mortality (odds ratio [OR] 1.69, p = 0.03), and more complications (OR 1.57, p < 0.001). The rate of post-discharge 30-day hospital encounters was similar (OR 1.08, p = 0.460). However, IHT patients had more emergency department encounters (OR 1.35, p = 0.04) and fewer observation-status readmissions (OR 0.53, p = 0.01).
After PSM to reduce confounding variables, patients with common EGS diagnoses transferred to a tertiary care facility have increased inpatient morbidity and mortality. The increased morbidity and resource utilization for these patients extends beyond the index hospital stay.