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A knee operation

More post-surgery deaths, study finds

RobK(Photo: Zdenko Zivkovic)

Research published on Friday in medical journal The Lancet suggests that the number of people dying after surgery in hospital is twice as high as thought before. The good news, however, is that the new figure is 4 percent, as opposed to the earlier 2 percent mortality rate estimate. In other words, 96 percent of people who are operated on live to tell the tale.

Two bodies, the European Society of Anaesthesiology and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, surveyed 500 hospitals in 28 European countries, checking out the medical histories of some 46,000 surgery patients. The operations involved ordinary surgery, excluding heart and brain operations.

The chance to die after surgery is greatest in Ireland (6.5 percent), Poland (17.9), Latvia (21.5) and Romania (6.8). The best chances of survival are found in Scandinavian countries, with Iceland having the best score at 1.2 percent.

Similar research in Canada and the US led to some comments. It is hard to compare studies on post-surgery mortality,  US researchers Avidan and Kheterpal said, pointing out that it makes a difference whether you look at deaths within two days of the surgery, or within a month. The European study looked at patients who had been monitored for up to sixty days after undergoing surgery.

The European researchers recommended that better ways must be found to identify patients who are at risk after their operation. Simply adding more intensive care beds is no solution, they said. - (IEDE)

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