Experts have warned of the high mortality rate amongst patients who undergo emergency bowel surgery in England and Wales.

The National Emergency Laparotomy Audit team has found that one in 10 patients who undergo emergency key-hole bowel surgery dies within 30 days of the operation.

The comprehensive review analysed data from 192 of 195 NHS hospitals, assessing the treatment of more than 20,000 patients.

The audit discovered wide variations in the standard of care between hospitals, with access to expert supervision and urgent treatment being particular issues.

The audit also found that:

  • 30-40% of patients in some hospitals did not receive expected standards of care
  • 50% of patients were not seen by a consultant surgeon within the recommended 12 hours
  • One in six patients did not arrive in theatre within the recommended timeframe
  • Some patients at risk of developing sepsis were not given antibiotic medication in time
  • Some patients did not have access to critical/intensive care post-operatively

President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, said: “This audit demonstrates patients are still not accessing a consistently high standard of care from initial assessment through to post-operative care.”

The audit team has said it will follow-up with hospitals in an attempt to improve performance.

Bowel surgery death

Every year around 30,000 patients in England and Wales will undergo emergency bowel surgery for life-threatening conditions such as a ruptured bowel or obstruction.

If your loved one did not receive an acceptable standard of care during their treatment, resulting in fatal complications, you should talk to a lawyer about your options.

If there has been a case of medical negligence, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.

Please contact us at Glynns Solicitors for more information.


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