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Mortality Up for Patients Undergoing Surgery on Surgeon's Birthday

MONDAY, Dec. 14, 2020 -- Patients undergoing surgery on the surgeon's birthday have higher mortality compared with those undergoing surgery on other days, according to a study published online Dec. 10 in The BMJ.

Hirotaka Kato, Ph.D., from the David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observational study in U.S. acute care and critical access hospitals involving 100 percent fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 to 99 years. Patient postoperative 30-day mortality was examined for surgeries performed on surgeons' birthdays versus other days of the year among patients undergoing one of 17 common emergency surgical procedures in 2011 to 2014. Data were analyzed for 980,876 procedures performed by 47,489 surgeons.

The researchers found that 0.2 percent of procedures were performed on surgeons' birthdays. The overall unadjusted 30-day mortality was 7.0 and 5.6 percent on the operating surgeon's birthday and on other days, respectively. Patients who underwent surgery on a surgeon's birthday exhibited significantly higher mortality compared with those undergoing surgery on other days, after adjustment for patient characteristics and surgeon fixed effects (adjusted mortality rate, 6.9 versus 5.6 percent; adjusted difference, 1.3 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.1 to 2.5 percent; P = 0.03).

"These findings illustrate how large data might be used to assess whether the performance of a surgeon is influenced by life events outside of his or her work environment," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text

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Posted: December 2020

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