American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Phone follow-up yields fewer complications in low-risk patients

OCTOBER 24, 2017
Clinical Congress Daily Highlights, Tuesday Second Edition

General surgery patients completing telephone follow-up had significantly fewer complications than did those receiving usual care in a Tennessee study. The findings reveal the potential of the telephone to reduce the need for in-person clinic visits in low-risk patient populations.

The study, performed by Amelia Maiga, MD, and colleagues at the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in Nashville, TN, found no differences between groups in emergency department visits or readmissions. The complication rate among patients who followed up by phone, meanwhile, was 9 percent, just over half the 17 percent observed among those who visited the clinic. 

The researchers identified 340 patients eligible for telephone follow-up from a group of 727 general surgery patients at a tertiary care Veterans Affairs facility during 2016. Of the telephone-eligible group, 204 completed telephone follow-up and 136 had usual postoperative care. Eighteen of the 204 telephone patients (9 percent) were subsequently escalated to in-person visits, primarily due to wound concerns or suspicion for other complications.

Additional Information:
This Scientific Forum study was presented October 24 at the 2017 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in San Diego, CA.  Program, webcast and audio information is available online at

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