BACKGROUND: Since acute care surgery (ACS) was conceptualized a decade ago, the specialty has been adopted widely; however, little is known about the structure and function of ACS teams.
METHODS: We conducted 18 open-ended interviews with ACS leaders (representing geographic [New England, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, West, Midwest] and practice [Public/Charity, Community, University] diversity). Two independent reviewers analyzed transcribed interviews using an inductive approach (NVivo qualitative analysis software).
RESULTS: All respondents described ACS as a specialty treating "time-sensitive surgical disease" including trauma, emergency general surgery (EGS), and surgical critical care (SCC); 11 of 18 combined trauma and EGS into a single clinical team; 9 of 18 included elective general surgery. Emergency orthopedics, emergency neurosurgery, and surgical subspecialty triage were rare (1/18 each). Eight of 18 ACS teams had scheduled EGS operating room time. All had a core group of trauma and SCC surgeons; 13 of 18 shared EGS due to volume, human resources, or competition for revenue. Only 12 of 18 had formal signout rounds; only 2 of 18 had prospective EGS data registries. Streamlined access to EGS, evidence-based protocols, and improved education were considered strengths of ACS. ACS was described as the "last great surgical service" reinvigorated to provide "timely," cost-effective EGS by experts in "resuscitation and critical care" and to attract "young, talented, eager surgeons" to trauma/SCC; however, there was concern that ACS might become the "wastebasket for everything that happens at inconvenient times."
CONCLUSION: Despite rapid adoption of ACS, its implementation varies widely. Standardization of scope of practice, continuity of care, and registry development may improve EGS outcomes and allow the specialty to thrive.
- UMCCTS funding
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/catarina_kiefe/228/