Assessing the Decrease in the Surgical Population of the University of Puerto Rico– Affiliated Hospitals

Norma I. Cruz, Elvis Santiago, César Luque


Objective: To evaluate the magnitude of the decrease in the surgical population of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)–affiliated hospitals. Methods: We examined all the surgical cases that were entered into the Surgical Database from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2015. This database collects patient and procedural information from the surgical services of the UPR-affiliated hospitals. Thus, the number of surgical patients for the 3-year study period was determined and their characteristics recorded. The group was subdivided into 3 subgroups, according to year: 2013, 2014, and 2015. All the variables studied were tabulated for the 3 subgroups and the values compared. The differences between subgroups were evaluated using the chi2 test or ANOVA, whichever was appropriate, with a p-value of less than 0.05 being considered significant. Results: During the 3-year period, the Surgical Database collected information on 14,626 cases. The mean age of the group was 48 (±23) years. The gender distribution indicated that 55% of the sample members were women and 45% were men. A 14% decline in the number of surgical cases occurred from 2013 through 2015. The changes were not limited to a decline in numbers; the patients were sicker, as evidenced by a statistically significant (p<0.05) increase in the number of patients who presented with an American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) physical status classification of 3 or higher. Conclusion: A moderately steady decline in the number of surgical cases at the UPR-affiliated hospitals was noted. We believe multiple factors are responsible for this trend, such as a decreasing population and the current economic and healthcare crises occurring in Puerto Rico.


Population decline, Puerto Rico, surgery

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