Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Delay in admission for elective coronary-artery bypass grafting is associated with increased in-hospital mortality

Boris G Sobolev1*, Guy Fradet2, Robert Hayden3, Lisa Kuramoto4, Adrian R Levy1 and Mark J FitzGerald4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Department of Surgery, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Department of Surgery, Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster, BC, Canada

4 Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2008, 8:185  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-185

Published: 19 September 2008



Many health care systems now use priority wait lists for scheduling elective coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, but there have not yet been any direct estimates of reductions in in-hospital mortality rate afforded by ensuring that the operation is performed within recommended time periods.


We used a population-based registry to identify patients with established coronary artery disease who underwent isolated CABG in British Columbia, Canada. We studied whether postoperative survival during hospital admission for CABG differed significantly among patients who waited for surgery longer than the recommended time, 6 weeks for patients needing semi-urgent surgery and 12 weeks for those needing non-urgent surgery.


Among 7316 patients who underwent CABG, 97 died during the same hospital admission, for a province-wide death rate at discharge of 1.3%. The observed proportion of patients who died during the same admission was 1.0% (27 deaths among 2675 patients) for patients treated within the recommended time and 1.5% (70 among 4641) for whom CABG was delayed. After adjustment for age, sex, anatomy, comorbidity, calendar period, hospital, and mode of admission, patients with early CABG were only 2/3 as likely as those for whom CABG was delayed to experience in-hospital death (odds ratio 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39 to 0.96). There was a linear trend of 5% increase in the odds of in-hospital death for every additional month of delay before surgery, adjusted OR = 1.05 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.11).


We found a significant survival benefit from performing surgical revascularization within the time deemed acceptable to consultant surgeons for patients requiring the treatment on a semi-urgent or non-urgent basis.