Many people today tend to look at healthcare as a commodity, something that is fool proof, guaranteed and reliable, after all we have scientific powerhouses advancing the science of medicine and highly trained professionals who spend years perfecting their art.
A closer look inside the industry however would find no such reality there. In fact, healthcare is a complex and unique service that is tailored to each patient, and even in modern healthcare, medicine is a “practice of an art” not a conveyor belt delivery system. This is especially true with regards to surgical interventions, as surgery never guarantees a 100% complication-free recovery rate or identical outcome.
This HealFast Health and Wellness post will cover the often little known and discussed statistics behind the surgical complication rates of some common surgeries being performed today. Our goal is not to scare you or cast doubt on the excellence that the medical community strives to provide every day; but more so, to illuminate healthcare realities and discuss some ways you can improve your odds in achieving an optimal recovery.
Some surgeries come with a higher risk of complications than others.
Per Journal of American Medical Association, “of 551,510 patients (mean age, 54.6 years); 16.7% experienced a complication; 41.5% occurred post discharge...of these, 75.0% occurred within 14 days of post discharge1.”Any surgery that requires you to stay at the hospital for a day or more, involves more physiological trauma, or deals with the digestion system, is more likely to have complications.
Ultimately the top 5 surgeries where complications are seen include2:
Enteric fistula repair3 (stomach or intestinal openings) - 36.9%
Pancreatic surgery - 35.4%
Proctectomy (portioned rectum removal)4 - 30.3%
Small bowel surgery5 - 29.4%
Esophagectomy6 (portioned esophagus removal) - 28.9%
These surgeries are most likely to have a complication in the hospital, however there are other common surgeries with very high post-discharge complications rates, i.e. after a patient is home1.
Breast surgery - 78.7%
Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) - 69.4%
Ventral hernia repair (hernia around surgery incision site) - 62%
Appendectomy - 59.9%
Other hernia repair - 50.3%
Post-Surgical Complications can increase pain, recovery time, and cost both to patients and the healthcare system.
To provide some context to the overall frequency of post-surgery complications, the following stats may help provide a good indication on the odds that face prospective surgery patients.
In essence, 3 in 5 patients overall will experience a surgery complication, roughly 2 in 5 patients will experience a complication after discharge, and 1 in 4 patients will have a complication severe enough to warrant hospital readmission within 30 days.
Research studies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reviewing the impact of the Affordable Care Act, have shown that hospital readmission rates due to post-surgery complications can cost up to $15Bn a year covering roughly 1.6 million hospitalizations7.
Fortunately, many of these surgical complications, including those resulting in hospital readmissions, are preventable.
Just as a weight lifter uses supplementation to recover from muscle micro tears after a tough workout, or a marathoner who carb loads the day before a big race; nutritional support is critical for a healthy and optimized recovery. Many doctors including Dr. Paul Wishmeyer, anesthesiologist at Duke, comment on the questionable practice of having patients nutritionally starve themselves prior to surgeries9. While the practice should be applied to solid foods to prevent potential in-surgery asphyxiation, the idea of entering a surgery nutritionally depleted or even malnourished is one that must be prevented.
The fact remains that per the CDC and the NHANES nearly 80% have insufficient nutrient intake and of this 10% can be considered clinically malnourished. In addition, per the USDA nearly 50% of Americans are deficient in key recovery vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, and Magnesium. Ultimately, studies show that nearly 40% of all patients are malnourished at time of arrival to the hospital for surgery. It is no surprise that during times of injury or surgery, a person’s nutritional constitution takes an even greater turn for the worse as physiological stress rapidly depletes resources that were available in the body. Ultimately, this can lead to further nutrient deficiency, compromised and delayed wound healing, increased pain, fatigue, and infections, and result in complications both during and after surgery.
To help reduce surgery complication rates and improve patient recovery outcomes, nutrition must be brought closer to the forefront of physicians’ priorities during patient recovery counseling.
While there are few surgical and injury recovery supplement programs out there as complete, safe, or trusted as the HealFast Recovery Formula; many supplements companies and biohackers are beginning to see the value in supplementation pre- and post-surgery. Even a simple probiotic program - regularly prescribed by the NHS for every surgery to reduce C DIFF infection rates - can be beneficial for patient recovery. We will be writing a more in-depth analysis on the benefits of probiotics soon, but we suggest researching for your own benefit starting with this probiotic supplement guide.
Ultimately, your recovery is in your own hands. Maintaining a strong nutritional foundation, following doctor instructions, resting, and taking proper precautions will help you beat the odds and obtain a stronger, more optimized surgery or injury recovery!
We hope this post on post-surgery complications and recovery has helped you more appropriately prepare for any impending surgery and alerted you to the very real odds of potential complications. For more HealFast posts, check out our blog and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! As always be safe, stay informed, and be healthy!
General Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional. All serious disease needs a physician.