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Decentralized colorectal cancer care in Germany over the last decade is associated with high in-hospital morbidity and mortality

Authors Ghadban T, Reeh M, Bockhorn M, Grotelueschen R, Bachmann K, Grupp K, Uzunoglu FG, Izbicki JR, Perez DR

Received 12 December 2018

Accepted for publication 21 January 2019

Published 12 March 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 2101—2107


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Chien-Feng Li

Tarik Ghadban,* Matthias Reeh,* Maximilian Bockhorn, Rainer Grotelueschen, Kai Bachmann, Katharina Grupp, Faik G Uzunoglu, Jakob R Izbicki, Daniel R Perez

Department of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Purpose: Despite several national initiatives, centralization of cancer care in Germany remains insufficient for most malignancies. Currently, there is a plethora of centers, including 290 voluntary certified and audited colorectal cancer (CRC) centers by the end of 2017, in the nation with many patients still being treated outside of such centers. This study aimed to assess morbidity and mortality rates of surgical procedures for primary colorectal CRC in Germany over the last decade through a comprehensive unbiased analysis.
Patients and methods: We performed an analysis of the national diagnosis-related group inpatient statistics from 2005 to 2015 including all German hospitals. All patients who underwent surgeries for primary CRC during the study period were included.
Results: A total of 351,028 cases were analyzed (61.6% colonic and 38.4% rectal resections). The mortality rate of colonic resections remained high during the study period (4.9% in 2005 vs 4.5% in 2015; P=0.57). Reduced perioperative mortality after rectal surgery was observed only after 2012 compared to previous years (3.8% in 2005 vs 3.0% in 2015; P<0.001), with no further improvement. In-hospital morbidity such as anastomotic leak, wound infections, hemorrhage, pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, and lung embolism did not improve for either rectal or for colonic surgery, but in contrast, most outcomes deteriorated over time.
Conclusion: The present study challenges the current national health policies aiming to improve outcomes of surgical patients. CRC care in Germany remains decentralized with high in-hospital morbidity and mortality rates. New national strategies focusing on the implementation of centralization and high-quality CRC care are urgently needed.

Keywords: outcome, centralization, CRC, surgery, certification, colorectal cancer

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