Journal article
Cancelled Operations in a Teaching Hospital in Saudi Arabia

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Publication Details
Publisher: Medical Services Department Saudi Arabian Armed Forces
Publication year: 1993
Journal: Saudi Medical Journal
Journal name in source: SAUDI MEDICAL JOURNAL
Journal acronym: SMJ
Volume number: 14
Issue number: 6
Start page: 544
End page: 548
Number of pages: 5
ISSN: 0379-5284
Web of Science ID: A1993MW58800010
PubMed ID:
Scopus ID:
eISSN: 1658-3175

Cancelled operations are not infrequent, can annoy patients and waste hospital resources. They were monitored prospectively to determine their frequency, causes and any impact of surveillance-by-objective plus in-house education. The study involved nine departments and was done in three phases over 47 consecutive months. During the study period 19 661 operations were performed and 1976 (9.1%) were cancelled, the rates in Phases 1, 2, and 3 being 11.8%, 6.7% and 6.2%. The difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2 was significant (p<0.001) but that between Phase 2 and Phase 3 was not. The study was not designed to influence patients, and the frequency of cancellations they had caused remained unchanged at 2.6%, 1.8% and 1.8%. Nurses contributed least (1.4%) to the burden of cancellations at a frequency of 0.14%, 0.12% and only 0.04% respectively. Medical staff contributed most (over 70%) and their three most frequent reasons, which also proved resistant to change, were co-morbid slates, overbooking and blood not available. Surveillance achieved the desired impact in five other reasons for cancellation which became virtually eliminated, viz. anaesthetist or surgeon unavailable, the difficult intubation, medical students' examination, no consent forms and the arbitrary cancellation. We conclude that the frequency of cancelled operations can be reduced significantly by surveillance but it should include targeting surgeons as individuals by name. However, there were two limitations. No impact occurred when physicians' perception was that medico-legal issues were involved, and once the intervention stops any improvements achieved can disappear.

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Last updated on 2019-04-02 at 09:14