Failure to rescue (FTR) and unplanned reoperation following an index surgical procedure are key indicators of the quality of surgical care. Given that differences in unplanned reoperation and FTR rates among racial groups may contribute to persistent disparities in postsurgical outcomes, we sought to determine whether racial differences exist in the risk of FTR among children who required unplanned reoperation following inpatient surgical procedures.
We used the National Surgical Quality Improvement database (2012–2017) to assemble a cohort of children (<18 years), who underwent inpatient surgery and subsequently returned to the operating room within 30 days of the index surgery. We used logistic regression models to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of FTR, comparing African American (AA) to White children. We estimated the risk-adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for FTR by controlling the analyses for demographic characteristics, surgical profile, and preoperative comorbidities. We further evaluated the racial differences in FTR by stratifying the analyses by the timing of unplanned reoperation.
Of 276,917 children who underwent various inpatient surgical procedures, 10,425 (3.8%) required an unplanned reoperation, of whom 2016 (19.3%) were AA and 8409 (80.7%) were White. Being AA relative to being White was associated with a 2-fold increase in the odds of FTR (aOR: 2.03; 95% CI, 1.5–2.74; P < .001). Among children requiring early unplanned reoperation, AAs were 2.38 times more likely to die compared to their White peers (8.9% vs 3.4%; aOR: 2.38; 95% CI, 1.54–3.66; P < .001). In children with intermediate timing of return to the operating room, the risk of FTR was 80% greater for AA children compared to their White peers (2.2% vs 1.1%; aOR: 1.80; 95% CI, 1.07–3.02; P = .026). Typically, AA children die within 5 days (interquartile range [IQR]: 1–16) of reoperation while their White counterparts die within 9 days following reoperation (IQR: 2–26).
Among children requiring unplanned reoperation, AA patients were more likely to die than their White peers. This racial difference in FTR rate was most noticeable among children requiring early unplanned reoperation. Time to mortality following unplanned reoperation was shorter for AA than for White children. Race appears to be an important determinant of FTR following unplanned reoperation in children and it should be considered when designing interventions to optimize unplanned reoperation outcomes.