Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 177–180 | Cite as

Association of postoperative complications with hospital costs and length of stay in a tertiary care center

  • Nadia A. Khan
  • Hude Quan
  • Jennifer M. Bugar
  • Jane B. Lemaire
  • Rollin Brant
  • William A. Ghali
Original Articles


BACKGROUND: Postoperative complications are a significant source of morbidity and mortality. There are limited studies, however, assessing the impact of common postoperative complications on health care resource utilization.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association of clinically important postoperative complications with total hospital costs and length of stay (LOS) in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery.

METHODS: We determined total hospital costs and LOS in all patients admitted to a single tertiary care center between July 1, 1996 and March 31, 1998 using a detailed administrative hospital discharge database. Total hospital costs and LOS were adjusted for preoperative and surgical characteristics.

RESULTS: Of 7,457 patients who underwent noncardiac surgery, 6.9% developed at least 1 of the postoperative complications. These complications increased hospital costs by 78% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 68% to 90%) and LOS by 114% (95% CI: 100% to 130%) after adjustment for patient preoperative and surgical characteristics. Postoperative pneumonia was the most common complication (3%) and was associated with a 55% increase in hospital costs (95% CI: 42% to 69%) and an 89% increase in LOS (95% CI: 70% to 109%).

CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative complications consume considerable health care resources. Initiatives targeting prevention of these events could significantly reduce overall costs of care and improve patient quality of care.

Key words

perioperative surgery cost complications 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadia A. Khan
    • 1
  • Hude Quan
    • 2
  • Jennifer M. Bugar
    • 3
  • Jane B. Lemaire
    • 3
  • Rollin Brant
    • 2
  • William A. Ghali
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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