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Specific Warning Signs of Colorectal Complications

Just a few interesting facts from this press release by the FACS.  They cite that there are 600,000  colorectal operations performed per year and that 11.4% of colorectal patients are back in the hospital within 30 days, stay an average of 8 days, and cost the country 300 million dollars. These are some pretty impressive numbers and warrants investigation and intervention. They set out to define early warning signs to identify problems earlier and bring them to the attention of the surgeon.  The panel of 11 experts came up with the following:

  • wound drainage, opening, or redness (all three of these signs can indicate an infection)
  • no bowel movement or lack of gas/stool from any ostomy for more than 24 hours
  • increasing abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • abdominal swelling
  • high ostomy output and/or dark urine or no urine
  • fever greater than 101.5
  • not being able to take anything by mouth for more than 24 hours

And also added medical symptoms warranting ER evaluation as:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath

I think it’s important to focus on the patient education aspect of addressing the re-admission problems. There is a window of opportunity to prevent minor complications from becoming major complications and the patients are the best one’s to monitor these symptoms and bring them to appropriate physican’s attention.