The conference effect: National surgery meetings are associated with increased mortality at trauma centers without American College of Surgeons verification

Peter C. Jenkins, Scott Painter, Teresa M. Bell, Jeffrey Kline, Ben L. Zarzaur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Thousands of physicians attend scientific conferences each year. While recent data indicate that variation in staffing during such meetings impacts survival of non-surgical patients, the association between treatment during conferences and outcomes of a surgical population remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine mortality resulting from traumatic injuries and the influence of hospital admission during national surgery meetings. Study design Retrospective analysis of in-hospital mortality using data from the Trauma Quality Improvement Program (2010–2011). Identified patients admitted during four annual meetings and compared their mortality with that of patients admitted during non-conference periods. Analysis included 155 hospitals with 12,256 patients admitted on 42 conference days and 82,399 patients admitted on 270 non-conference days. Multivariate analysis performed separately for hospitals with different levels of trauma center verification by state and American College of Surgeons (ACS) criteria. Results Patient characteristics were similar between meeting and non-meeting dates. At ACS level I and level II trauma centers during conference versus non-conference dates, adjusted mortality was not significantly different. However, adjusted mortality increased significantly for patients admitted to trauma centers that lacked ACS trauma verification during conferences versus non-conference days (OR 1.2, p = 0.008), particularly for patients with penetrating injuries, whose mortality rose from 11.6% to 15.9% (p = 0.006). Conclusions Trauma mortality increased during surgery conferences compared to non-conference dates for patients admitted to hospitals that lacked ACS trauma level verification. The mortality difference at those hospitals was greatest for patients who presented with penetrating injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0214020
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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