Introduction. The delayed diagnosis in emergency surgery can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality and often lead to litigations. The aim of the present work is to analyse the outcome in cases with non-trauma surgical emergencies wrongly admitted in non-surgical departments.
Methods. A retrospective trial in two independent University hospitals was conducted. The first group encompassed the patients worked-up in the Surgical unit of Emergency department (2014-2018). The second one included all cases visited Emergency department (2018). Only cases with acute abdomen and delayed diagnosis and operation were included. The analysis included the proportion of the delayed diagnosis, time between admission and operation, intraoperative diagnosis, complications and mortality rate.
Results. In the first group there were 30 194 visits in the surgical unit with 15 836 hospitalizations (52.4%). Twenty patients of the last (0.13%) were admitted in the Clinic of Infectious disease and subsequently operated. The mean delay between hospitalization and operation was 3 days (1-10). Seventeen patients (85%) were operated with mortality of 10%. In the second group, there were a total of 22 760 visits with 11 562 discharged cases. Of the last, 1.7% (n=192) were re-admitted in a surgical ward, 25 of which underwent urgent surgery (0.2%).
Conclusions. The missed surgical cases represent only a small proportion of the patients in emergency department. The causes for wrong initial admissions in our series were misinterpretation of the symptoms, insufficient clinical examination and underuse of US and CT. The careful clinical assessment, point-of care US and CT may decrease the rate of the delayed diagnosis.
KEY WORDS: Emergency surgery - Delayed diagnosis - Missed cases - Surgery - Outcome.