Richard Smith writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) blog brings up and elaborates on the subject of post-surgical risks which may run as high as 6%. Yikes!

About 200 million adults a year undergo major surgery that is not cardiac surgery, and about 5 million of those people suffer a major vascular complication. That, said P J Devereaux from McMaster University at the Oxford Health Alliance meeting in Delhi last week, is about the same as the number of people contracting HIV each year. But have you ever heard or thought about it? Probably not.

All doctors know that a heart attack or a stroke can be a complication of major surgery, but very few appreciate the scale of the problem. That’s probably because they are unaware of the degree of risk and of the global scale of surgery. Surgery puts extreme stress on a patient.

Studies conducted a long time ago showed that about 4% of patients with cardiovascular disease or at high risk of such disease and about 1.5% of others suffered a major vascular complication…

I couldn’t help thinking of the many studies I’ve read over the years that show that much surgery is inappropriate. “Good surgeons,” as the famous aphorism says, “know how to operate, better surgeons when to operate, and the best surgeons when not to operate.” Maybe there shouldn’t be 200 million major operations a year but 150 million.

read it all via BMJ Group blogs: BMJ » Blog Archive » Richard Smith: the unrecognised epidemic.

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