Patients undergoing emergency laparotomy have high mortality, but few studies exist to improve outcomes for these patients.


To assess whether a collaborative approach to implement a 6-point care bundle is associated with reduction in mortality and length of stay and improvement in the delivery of standards of care across a group of hospitals.

Design, Setting, and Participants 

The Emergency Laparotomy Collaborative (ELC) was a UK-based prospective quality improvement study of the implementation of a care bundle provided to patients requiring emergency laparotomy between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2017. Participants were 28 National Health Service hospitals and emergency surgical patients who were treated at these hospitals and whose data were entered into the National Emergency Laparotomy Audit (NELA) database. Post-ELC implementation outcomes were compared with baseline data from July 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015. Data entry and collection were performed through the NELA.


A 6-point, evidence-based care bundle was used. The bundle included prompt measurement of blood lactate levels, early review and treatment for sepsis, transfer to the operating room within defined time goals after the decision to operate, use of goal-directed fluid therapy, postoperative admission to an intensive care unit, and multidisciplinary involvement of senior clinicians in the decision and delivery of perioperative care. Change management and leadership coaching were provided to ELC leadership teams.

Main Outcome and Measures  

Primary outcomes were in-hospital mortality, both crude and Portsmouth Physiological and Operative Severity Score for the enumeration of Mortality and morbidity (P-POSSUM) risk-adjusted, and length of stay. Secondary outcomes were the changes after implementation of the separate metrics in the care bundle.


A total of 28 hospitals participated in the ELC and completed the project. The baseline group included 5562 patients (2937 female [52.8%] and a mean [range] age of 65.3 [18.0-114.0] years), whereas the post-ELC group had 9247 patients (4911 female [53.1%] and a mean [range] age of 65.0 [18.0-99.0] years). Unadjusted mortality rate decreased from 9.8% at baseline to 8.3% in year 2 of the project, and so did risk-adjusted mortality from a baseline of 5.3% to 4.5% post-ELC. Mean length of stay decreased from 20.1 days during year 1 to 18.9 days during year 2. Significant changes in 5 of the 6 metrics in the care bundle were achieved.

Conclusions and Relevance  

A collaborative approach using a quality improvement methodology and a care bundle appeared to be effective in reducing mortality and length of stay in emergency laparotomy, suggesting that hospitals should adopt such an approach to see better patient outcomes and care delivery performance.


Aggarwal G, Peden CJ, Mohammed MA, et al. Evaluation of the Collaborative Use of an Evidence-Based Care Bundle in Emergency Laparotomy. JAMA Surg. 2019;154(5):e190145. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.0145

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