Variable impact of complications in general surgery: A prospective cohort study

E. Bosma, E.J. Veen, M.A. de Jongh, J.A. Roukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Registering complications is important in surgery, since complications serve as outcome measures and indicators of quality of care. Few studies have addressed the variation in severity and consequences of complications. We hypothesized that complications show much variation in consequences and severity.
We conducted a prospective observational cohort study to evaluate consequences and severity of complications in surgical practice. All recorded complications of patients admitted to our hospital between June 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007, were prospectively recorded in an electronic database. Complications were classified according to the system of the Trauma Registry of the American College of Surgeons. We graded the severity of complications according to the system proposed by Clavien and colleagues, and the consequences of each complication were registered.
During the study period, 3418 complications were recorded; consequences and severity were recorded in 89% of them. Of 3026 complications, 987 (33%) were grade I, 781 (26%) were grade IIa, 1020 (34%) were grade IIb, 150 (5%) were grade III and 88 (3%) were grade IV. The consequences and severity of identically registered complications showed a large degree of variation, best illustrated by wound infections, which were grade I in 50%, grade IIa in 22%, grade IIb in 28% and grade III and IV in 0.3% of patients.
Severity should be routinely presented when reporting complications in clinical practice and surgical research papers to adequately compare quality of care and results of clinical trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
JournalCanadian Journal of Surgery / Journal Canadien de Chirurgie
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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