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Managing waiting lists for cardiac surgery
  1. Clinical Operational Research Unit
  2. Department of Mathematics
  3. University College London
  4. Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK

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Waiting lists for cardiac surgery, although unavoidable, can have adverse effects on the patients concerned through increased risk of death and other ischaemic related events, as well as loss in quality of life.1 The extent to which delayed surgery affects patient outcome varies widely between patients, being dependent on factors such as disease severity, symptom experience, and waiting time. Therefore, it is important to manage waiting lists sensibly in a manner that aims to be equitable, reduce overall risk, and maintain or improve quality of life as much as possible. Two papers in this issue address different aspects of the waiting list problem.2 ,3

Lessons from analysis of waiting list related deaths

Plomp et al investigated mortality among patients waiting for cardiac surgery in 11 centres in the Netherlands during 1994 and 1995.2 They are particularly interested in “waiting list related” deaths—that is, deaths that could have been avoided if patients were not required to wait. The number of waiting list related …

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