Marianne Vinbæk and her doctor colleague Trine Lauridsen have just passed an international exam by the European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery (photo: Tonny Foghmar). 

At Aarhus University Hospital a highly specialised team in gastrointestinal surgery ensures international top-quality treatment of acute and trauma patients.

At Department of Surgery (section for upper gastrointestinal and hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery) at Aarhus University Hospital, the focus for the last two years has been to increase focus on quality of acute gastrointestinal surgery. A specially-trained team of four doctors now provides highly specialised treatment to patients undergoing acute gastrointestinal surgery.

This task was previously divided between most of the doctors at the department, who had many other tasks to attend to as well.

The focused effort increases the quality of acute care surgery, says consultant and surgeon Trine Lauridsen.

”Acute care surgery has previously had a low status and has been neglected both nationally and internationally. This has changed and studies show that an increased focus, extra training and specialisation within acute gastrointestinal surgery have improved patient survival. It has been a huge improvement in continuity and it has led to faster and better treatment that we are now four specialist doctors in the acute team,” she says.

”You think in different ways when you do acute and elective surgery; you apply different strategies. American studies show that specialising in each direction leads to improved patient outcome. This is the priciple we base our work on.”

Among the best in Europe

Members of the acute team are dedicated to acute care surgery and are exempt from other tasks. They constantly receive further education and training within acute care surgery. Trine Lauridsen and her doctor colleague Marianne Vinbæk have just passed an international exam by the European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery. Only a few doctors in Europe have passed this highly demanding exam.

”If you work with acute gastrointestinal surgery at the highest level, you need this exam. It is difficult to pass and we have put in a huge effort. It is a comprehensive application process just to be allowed to take the exam and you are required to have a very high professional level to pass,” says Marianne Vinbæk.

The plan is that the two other doctors in the team take the exam next year; then the entire team will be certified acute surgeons at international level.

Following the acquired new knowledge, the department has updated and improved guidelines and procedures.

”It has been beneficial to search the literature systematically. You discover things you have done for years and find out that we need to change some of our guidelines.”.

Benefit for patients and staff

The strengthening of acute gastrointestinal surgery is not only benefitting acute patients.

”We can feel the difference in the whole department. Our colleagues who specialise in other areas such as liver or oesophagus cancer surgery now have more time to improve their skills while we take care of and specialise in the acute patients,” says Trine Lauridsen.

”Job satisfaction is also higher. We have another sense of responsibility to our patients by having improved professionally.We are a team and we all work to give the patients the best treatment. We can feel it is right for the patients and this affects our job satisfaction,” says Trine Lauridsen. She continues:

”Our colleagues have supported us and we have received the necessary support also financially from the management. ”The acute area must be prioritised”. It has been said a lot of times, but we can actually feel that it has been prioritised.”

The goal is to expand the team so it can also cover evening and night shifts.