Surgical Outcomes in Canada and the United States: An Analysis of the ACS-NSQIP Clinical Registry

Peter Cram, Mark E. Cohen, Clifford Ko, Bruce E. Landon, Bruce Hall, Timothy D. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There has been longstanding uncertainty over whether lower healthcare spending in Canada might be associated with inferior outcomes for hospital-based care. We hypothesized that mortality and surgical complication rates would be higher for patients who underwent four common surgical procedures in Canada as compared to the US. Design, Setting, and Participants: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all adults who underwent hip fracture repair, colectomy, pancreatectomy, or spine surgery in 96 Canadian and 585 US hospitals participating in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Project (ACS-NSQIP) between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019. We compared patients with respect to demographic characteristics and comorbidity. We then compared unadjusted and adjusted outcomes within 30-days of surgery for patients in Canada and the US including: (1) Mortality; (2) A composite constituting 1-or-more of the following complications (cardiac arrest; myocardial infarction; pneumonia; renal failure/; return to operating room; surgical site infection; sepsis; unplanned intubation). Results: Our hip fracture cohort consisted of 21,166 patients in Canada (22.3%) and 73,817 in the US (77.7%), for colectomy 21,279 patients in Canada (8.9%) and 218,307 (91.1%), for pancreatectomy 873 (7.8%) in Canada and 12,078 (92.2%) in the US, and for spine surgery 14,088 (5.3%) and 252,029 (94.7%). Patient sociodemographics and comorbidity were clinically similar between jurisdictions. In adjusted analyses odds of death was significantly higher in Canada for two procedures (colectomy (OR 1.22; 95% CI 1.044–1.424; P =.012) and pancreatectomy (OR 2.11; 95% CI 1.26–3.56; P =.005)) and similar for hip fracture and spine surgery. Odds of the composite outcome were significantly higher in Canada for all 4 procedures, largely driven by higher risk of cardiac events and post-operative infections. Conclusions: We found evidence of higher rates of mortality and surgical complications within 30-days of surgery for patients in Canada as compared to the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1050
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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