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Death on the waiting list for cardiac surgery
  1. Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
  2. Wythenshawe Hospital
  3. Southmoor Road, Manchester M23 9LT, UK

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Two studies into mortality while awaiting cardiac surgery are published in this issue1 ,2: one from New Zealand and one from the Netherlands. These countries have long waits for routine surgery, as does the UK—the median out of hospital waiting time of 146 days for surgery in New Zealand compares with a current median wait of 175 days for routine surgery at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, UK. The mortality while waiting for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) in New Zealand was 2.6%. In the Netherlands, where waits were somewhat shorter, mortality was 0.6% for CABG and 1.4% for combined CABG and valve surgery. This mortality was despite the usual attempts to categorise patients according to the perceived risk of waiting for surgery. A previous study from the UK3 reported a cardiac surgery waiting list mortality of a similar magnitude to the New Zealand publication. To view these figures in perspective it should be noted that the postoperative mortality following …

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