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OR in the News (selected articles)

Ludbrook G, Grocott MPW, Heyman K, Clarke-Errey S, Royse C, Sleigh J, Solomon LB: Outcomes of postoperative overnight high-acuity care in medium-risk patients undergoing elective and unplanned noncardiac surgery. JAMA Surg 2023; 158: 701-708

July 15, 2023

Postoperative complications are increasing, risking patients’ health and health care sustainability. High-acuity postoperative units may benefit outcomes, but existing data are very limited.
To evaluate whether a new high-acuity postoperative unit, advanced recovery room care (ARRC), reduces complications and health care utilization compared with usual ward care (UC).
In this observational cohort study, adults who were undergoing noncardiac surgery at a single-center tertiary adult hospital, anticipated to stay in hospital for 2 or more nights, were scheduled for postoperative ward care, and at medium risk (defined as predicted 30-day mortality of 0.7% to 5% by the National Safety Quality Improvement Program risk calculator) were included. Allocation to ARRC was based on bed availability. From 2405 patients assessed for eligibility with National Safety Quality Improvement Program risk scoring, 452 went to ARRC and 419 to UC, with 8 lost to 30-day follow-up. Propensity scoring identified 696 patients with matched pairs. Patients were treated between March and November 2021, and data were analyzed from January to September 2022.
ARRC is an extended postanesthesia care unit (PACU), staffed by anesthesiologists and nurses (1 nurse to 2 patients) collaboratively with surgeons, with capacity for invasive monitoring and vasoactive infusions. ARRC patients were treated until the morning after surgery, then transferred to surgical wards. UC patients were transferred to surgical wards after usual PACU care.
The primary end point was days at home at 30 days. Secondary end points were health facility utilization, medical emergency response (MER)–level complications, and mortality. Analyses compared groups before and after propensity scoring matching.
Of 854 included patients, 457 (53.5%) were male, and the mean (SD) age was 70.0 (14.4) years. Days at home at 30 days was greater with ARRC compared with UC (mean [SD] time, 17 [11] vs 15 [11] days; P = .04). During the first 24 hours, more patients were identified with MER-level complications in ARRC (43 [12.4%] vs 13 [3.7%]; P < .001), but after return to the ward, these were less frequent from days 2 to 9 (9 [2.6%] vs 22 [6.3%]; P = .03). Length of hospital stay, hospital readmissions, emergency department visits, and mortality were similar. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
For medium-risk patients, brief high-acuity care with ARRC allowed enhanced detection and management of early MER-level complications, which was followed by a decreased incidence of subsequent MER-level complications after discharge to the ward and by increased days at home at 30 days.