Patients undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures during December face higher mortality rates compared with other months.
That’s according to research evaluating the “holiday effect” on post-ERCP complications presented in a poster at ACG 2022 in October.
ERCP is an endoscopic procedure to diagnose and treat conditions in the liver, gall bladder, bile ducts and pancreas.
Patients who had the procedure done in December also had higher rates of post-ERCP cholecystitis, according to the poster. There was not a significant difference in data for post-ERCP pancreatitis, cholangitis, infection, hemorrhage, and perforation.
“During this time, hospitals may be inadequately staffed and employees may have irregular hours or additional stressors, leading to a higher overall post-ERCP mortality rate,” the poster concludes. “Patients may also choose not to have procedures done during this time, coming in only for emergent and urgent issues requiring ERCP.”
Researchers from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School analyzed national data from 2007-2017 to reach their conclusions. Over this span, there was a decrease in post-ERCP mortality, which can be attributed to improvement in endoscopic techniques and staff holiday schedules, they write. Patients had an increase in post-ERCP cholecystitis, which researchers say may be influenced by poor dietary choices.
Endoscopists should be aware of this “holiday effect” when performing ERCPs in December, they conclude.