Postoperative complications drive surgical readmissions

Eleven percent of general surgery patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, with postoperative complications being the leading reason for the readmission, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 

For the study, researchers examined National Surgical Quality Improvement Project data for a single academic medical center for general surgery patients between the years 2009 – 2011.  Key findings include:

  • 11.3 percent of the patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge
  • The most common reasons for readmission were gastrointestinal problem/complication (27.6%), surgical infection (22.1%), and failure to thrive/malnutrition (10.4%)
  • Surgical procedures associated with higher rates of readmission included pancreatectomy, colectomy, and liver resection.

The authors conclude that focusing on minimizing postoperative complications will decrease postoperative readmissions.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, August 30, 2012; Journal of the American College of Surgeons,, September 2012)