Failure to rescue: A quality improvement imperative in achieving zero death in damage control laparotomy patients

Alison Smith, Kareem Ibraheem, Danielle Tatum, Rebecca Schroll, Chrissy Guidry, Patrick McGrew, Clifton McGinness, Juan Duchesne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Failure to rescue (FTR), defined as death after a major complication in surgical patients, is being used to measure outcomes for quality improvement. Major complications frequently occur in patients undergoing damage control laparotomy (DCL). No previous FTR studies have looked specifically into DCL patients. The aim of this study was to examine risk factors of FTR and identify potential areas for targeted quality improvement in DCL patients. A 10-year retrospective review of all consecutive adult trauma patients who underwent DCL at a Level I trauma center was performed. Demographic and clinical variables were examined for association with FTR. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify risk factors of FTR in DCL patients. A total of 199 DCL patients were analyzed. Overall DCL mortality observed was 11.1 per cent (n 5 22/199) and overall FTR for the cohort was n 5 16/199. FTR represented 72 per cent (n 5 16/22) of the total mortality. The significantly increased risk of FTR was associated with older age (P 5 0.027), lower initial Glasgow Coma Scale score (P 5 0.037), more units of packed red blood cells (P 5 0.028), and respiratory complications (P 5 0.035). Renal and infectious complications did not significantly increase the risk of FTR in this population. FTR is an important benchmark of quality for trauma patients. This study elucidates potential initial characteristics and complications related to FTR in DCL patients. Efforts in achieving zero death from FTR can potentially improve overall mortality in this subset of patients. Future quality interventions to help minimize FTR should target these specific areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-977
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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