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Health tech key to curbing post-surgical fatalities – report

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Health tech could be key to better surgery outcomes - report.

Health tech innovation and better use of data are among several measures outlined in a major new report aimed at addressing the stubbornly high rates of death and serious complications in the 30-days after high-risk surgery.

UK evidence suggests that 80 per cent of postoperative deaths in the 30 days after surgery occur in a 10 per cent sub-population of high-risk patients.

On a European level, this is the equivalent of 192,000 deaths among the 2.4 million patients that undergo high-risk surgery across Europe every year.

A new report, by the think-tank Improving Patient Outcomes (ImPrOve) – a group of anaesthetists, surgeons and patient representatives – suggests health tech could be key to addressing this.

It calls for more funding for modern digital monitoring and greater use of data from modern technologies in health policies.

It also urges better physician training on the latest guidelines, and the right for patients to be involved in dialogue about the management of their procedure.

Professor Olivier Huet, ImPrOve chair and professor of anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, says: “Our mission is to work collaboratively with patient representatives, clinicians and policy makers to improve perioperative patient safety and experience with the help of advanced haemodynamic monitoring technologies.

“Major gaps still exist in reducing the risk of complications after high-risk surgery across European hospitals, working together is therefore imperative. All stakeholders need to be onboard so that we can create change and address the calls to action.”

ImPrOve sees the most alarming complication as haemodynamic instability, manifested as drops in blood pressure, and known as IOH.

During high-risk surgery it is vital that blood continues to flow to organs. IOH is common during surgery under general anaesthesia, occurring in up to 99 per cent of patients. 

It has the potential to cause tissue damage in any vital organ, but the heart and kidneys are most affected. Recent studies show associations between IOH and increased risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) and myocardial injury – the leading cause of post-operative mortality.

Postsurgical patients with AKI and myocardial injury stay longer in hospital, have higher readmission rates, and cost more to care for.

The subsequent financial fallout of this also has a significant impact on European healthcare systems. However, if haemodynamic instability is effectively monitored and prevented, these serious complications can be avoided, and patient outcomes can be significantly improved.

By 2050, it is predicted that one in four people could be over 65. With haemodynamic instability reported as high as 83 per cent in more senior patients, the ImPrOve Think Tank believes it will be a likely cause of a significant proportion of modifiable postoperative mortality and morbidity in Europe.

“Patients are often unaware of the risks of not receiving innovative digital monitoring technology, so they may not ask for the best perioperative management”, said Ms Luciana Valente, international relations manager at SIHA, Italy, and member of the Think Tank.

“It is essential that patients are better informed of the key risks associated with their procedure and aware that the use of innovative digital monitoring, and other actions will be taken to mitigate these risks. The more a patient is invested in a procedure, the better the outcomes will be.”

To read the full report – Improving patient safety: why perioperative care and effective monitoring matters – visit www.improvethinktank.org.

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