Surgeons create Frankenstein numbers?
The BBC News website and Radio 4 news both led this morning on the Royal College of Surgeons' report on emergency surgery. The BBC web site states that
'A report by the college highlights figures that show that about 170,000 patients undergo emergency abdominal operations each year. Of these, 100,000 will develop complications and 25,000 of these patients will die.'
The actual RCS report, on the other hand, says that ‘In the UK, 170,000 patients undergo higher risk non-cardiac surgery each year Of these patients, 100,000 will develop significant complications resulting in over 25,000 deaths.’
So first of all the BBC got it wrong in saying that the 170,000 were emergency abdominal operations. Maybe this was a problem with the RCS Press Release, which does not seem to be on their website.
This 25% mortality may very well be reasonable - perhaps estimated from NCEPOD data - but it would nice to be able to check. More or Less use the phrase 'zombie numbers' for those that refuse to go away in spite of repeated attacks. Perhaps the surgeons, rather appropriately, have created a Frankenstein number - one that is patched together, takes on a life of its own, but nobody can work out where it comes from. It may, with time, even turn into a zombie number.