The acute surgical unit: Improving emergency care

Department of General Surgery, Fremantle Hospital, WA, Australia.
ANZ Journal of Surgery (Impact Factor: 1.12). 12/2010; 80(12):933-6. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2010.05490.x
Source: PubMed


Acute care surgical teams are a new concept in the provision of emergency general surgery. Juggling emergency patients around the surgeons' and staffs' elective commitments resulted in semi-emergency procedures routinely being delayed. In an era of increasing financial pressure and the recent introduction of 'safe work hours' practices, the need for a new system which optimized available resources became apparent.
At Fremantle Hospital we developed a new system in a concerted effort to minimize the waiting time for general surgical referrals in the Emergency Department, as well as to move semi-urgent operating from the afterhours to the daytime. To analyse the impact of the ASU, data were collected during February, March, and April 2009 and compared with data from the same period in 2008.
Although most referrals were received afterhours, over 85% of operations were performed during working hours compared with 72% in the 2008 period. The time from referral to review decreased from an average of 3.2 h in 2008 to 2.1 h. The mean duration of stay in 2009 was 3 days, which was a reduction from 4.2 days in 2008. An increase in weekend discharge rates was seen after the introduction of the ASU.
Despite an increased workload, more referrals were seen and more operations performed during working hours and the time from referral to review was reduced. Higher discharge rates and reduced length of stays increased the availability of beds. We have demonstrated a successful new model which continues to evolve.

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    • "In the absence of an ACS service with dedicated OR time, access to emergency OR resources may be affected by a multitude of factors, including competing surgical specialty access, consultant practice patterns, and the availability of anesthesiologists and other OR support staff [10,11,13,14,39]. The overall hospital length of stay was similar among the three groups, and comparable to other studies [33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Emergency colorectal cancer (CRC) is a complex disease that requires multidisciplinary approaches for management. However, it is unclear whether acute care surgery (ACS) services can expedite the workup and treatment of complex surgical diseases such as emergency CRC. We sought to assess the impact of an Acute Care and Emergency Surgery Service (ACCESS) on wait-times for inpatient colonoscopy and surgical resection among emergency CRC patients. This retrospective case-control study was conducted at a tertiary-care, university-affiliated, cancer centre in London, Ontario, Canada. All patients aged 18 or older who presented to the emergency department with a recent (within 48 hours) diagnosis of CRC, or were diagnosed with CRC after admission, were included in the study. Patients were either in the pre-ACCESS (July 1, 2007-June 31, 2010) or post-ACCESS (July 1, 2010-June 30, 2012) groups. A third group of emergency CRC patients treated at an adjacent cancer centre that lacked ACCESS (non-ACCESS) was evaluated separately. The primary outcome was time from admission to colonoscopy and surgery. A total of 149 patients (47 pre-ACCESS, 37 post-ACCESS, and 65 non-ACCESS) were identified. Only 19% (n = 9) of pre-ACCESS patients underwent inpatient colonoscopy, compared to 38% (n = 14) in the post-ACCESS group (p = 0.023). Additionally, 100% of patients in the post-ACCESS era underwent inpatient colonoscopy and surgery during the same admission, compared to only 44% of pre-ACCESS patients (p = 0.006). Median wait-times for inpatient colonoscopy (2.0 and 1.8 days for pre- and post-ACCESS groups respectively, p = 0.08) and surgical resection (1.6 and 2.3 days for pre- and post-ACCESS groups respectively, p = 0.40) were similar. Patients admitted to ACCESS underwent more inpatient colonoscopies and were more likely to have definitive surgery on that admission. ACS services can facilitate the workup and management of complex surgical diseases such as emergency CRC without delaying treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · World Journal of Emergency Surgery
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    • "Australian ACS models, which are similar in structure to Canadian models, have similar results. They performed a greater proportion of operations during working hours, achieved a decreased length of hospital stay post-operatively, and had reduced complication rates for acute cholecystitis [7,8]. Furthermore, an American model with a similar structure found that ACS helped to reduce after-hours surgery and improved patient care [9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In January 2011 an acute care surgery (ACS) model was introduced at St. Paul's Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The goal of implementing an ACS service was to improve the delivery of care for emergent, non-trauma surgical patients. We examined whether the ACS model improved wait time to surgery, decreased the proportion of surgeries performed after hours, and shortened post-surgical length of stay. We also assessed whether the surgeons working in an ACS system had higher on-call satisfaction than surgeons working in a non- ACS system. A retrospective pre-post analysis was performed using data from the Discharge Abstract Database and the Organizing Medical Networked Information database. Surgeon satisfaction was evaluated using a questionnaire that was mailed to all general surgeons in Saskatoon. An ACS service significantly reduced wait time to surgery for patients with all acute general surgery diagnoses from 221 minutes to 192 minutes (rho = 0.015; CI = 5.8-52.2). Post-surgery length of stay for patients operated on for acute appendicitis, or acute cholecystitis was not reduced. On average, patients with bowel obstruction had increased length of stay following ACS service implementation. Most surgeries in our study were performed between 16:00 hours and 08:00 hours but the introduction of an ACS significantly reduced the number of afterhours surgeries (60.0% vs. 72.6%) (rho < 0.0001). Our survey had a response rate of 75%. Overall, surgeons on an ACS service had greater satisfaction with the organization of their call schedule than surgeons not on an ACS service. Introduction of an ACS service in Saskatoon has decreased wait time to surgery and reduced the proportion of afterhours emergency surgeries, with no reduction in the length of post-surgery hospital stay. Satisfaction may be higher for surgeons in an ACS service.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · World Journal of Emergency Surgery
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    ABSTRACT: Various models have been proposed to effectively provide acute surgical care in Australasia. Recently, General Surgeons Australia (GSA) has published a 12-point plan with guiding principles on this matter. This study describes a model of providing acute general surgical care in a high-volume institution, evaluates clinical outcomes and critically appraises the system against the GSA 12-point plan. The acute care system is qualitatively described with quantitative measures of workload. The outcomes of acute laparoscopic cholecystectomy were used as a proxy of system performance. The system was critically appraised against the GSA 12-point plan. Teams are on call once per week with each surgeon on call once per fortnight. The three key elements of acute management - collecting patients, post-acute ward round and operating - are treated as modules. The patient remains under the care of the admitting consultant but is often operated on by another team. From June 2009 to 2010, there were 7429 acute general surgical admissions (mean: 20.4 patients per day) with 2999 acute operations (mean: 8.4 operations per day). The other activities of the department were not compromised. In that time, 388 acute laparoscopic cholecystectomies were performed with a conversion rate of 1.3% and no major bile duct injury. The system is compatible with the GSA 12-point plan. This study describes an efficient and safe system for providing acute general surgical care in a high-volume setting with satisfactory clinical outcomes. It is compatible with the GSA 12-point plan.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · ANZ Journal of Surgery
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