May 18, 2023

Motor vehicle crash risk after general surgery

Editor's Note

Because there is limited data to guide return to driving recommendations for patients after surgery, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, performed this nested case-crossover study to find if the risk of a motor vehicle crash increases after surgery, compared to before.

The analysis included 70,722 licensed drivers who had inpatient or outpatient general surgery and were discharged home.

The number of motor vehicle crashes in the 4 weeks after surgery was 263 (0.37%), compared to 279 (0.39%) in the 4 weeks before surgery.

Consistent with nonsurgical populations, specific demographic groups (ie, non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and those aged 18 to 34 years) were at a higher risk of a crash after surgery, compared to non-Hispanic Whites and those ranging in age from 35 to more than 70 years.

Crash incidence after surgery was lower in male drivers than female drivers and those with a hospital length of stay of 1 day or more vs less than 1 day.

The researchers concluded that the incidence of motor vehicle crashes over a 28-day period did not change on average before compared to after surgery.


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