Publication Date

2014

Abstract

Background: The Acute Surgical Unit (ASU) is a recent change in management of acute general surgical patients in hospitals worldwide. In contrast to traditional management of acute surgical presentations by a rotating on-call system, ASUs are shown to deliver improved efficiency and patient outcomes. This study investigated the impact of an ASU on operative management of appendicitis, the most common acute surgical presentation, by comparing performance indicators and patient outcomes prior to and after introduction of an ASU at the Gold Coast Hospital, Queensland, Australia. Methods: A retrospective study of patients admitted from the Emergency Department (ED) and who underwent emergency appendectomy from February 2010 to January 2011 (pre-ASU) and after introduction of the ASU from February 2011 to January 2012 (post-ASU). A total of 548 patients underwent appendectomy between February 2010 and January 2012, comprising 247 pre-ASU and 301 post-ASU patients. Results: Significant improvements were demonstrated: reduced time to surgical review, fewer complications arising from operations commencing during ASU in-hours, and more appendectomies performed during the daytime attended by the consultant. There was no significant difference in total cost of admission or total admission length of stay. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that ASUs have potential to significantly improve the outcomes for operative management of acute appendicitis compared to the traditional on-call model. The impact of the ASU was limited by access to theaters and restricted ASU operation hours. Further investigation of site-specific determinants could be beneficial to optimize this new model of acute surgical care.

Document Type

Journal Article

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