Background Our objective was to determine factors associated with delays to first treatment for emergency department (ED) patients diagnosed with small-bowel obstruction (SBO). Methods This was a retrospective study of ED patients with SBO. Data were collected from medical records, administrative databases, and staffing schedules at an urban, tertiary care medical center from June 1, 2001, to November 30, 2002. Patient-related characteristics and processes of ED and hospital care were evaluated. Outcomes studied were time to first treatment (nasogastric tube or surgery) and risk of surgical resection. Results A total of 193 patients were diagnosed with confirmed intestinal obstruction. Patients with longer times to first treatment arrived during ED clinician hand-offs (adjusted hazard ratio,.40; 95% confidence interval,.17-.98). Patients with longer times to surgery consult (ref. first quartile) had greater odds of surgical resection (second quartile adjusted odds ratio, 6.91; 95% confidence interval, 1.85-24.80). Conclusions Remediable ED and hospital factors were associated with longer times to treatment for patients with bowel obstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Bowel obstruction
  • Delays
  • Emergency department
  • Hand-offs


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