n South African Journal of Surgery - Why is surgery cancelled? A retrospective evaluation : general surgery




The cancellation of surgery wastes theatre time and creates hardship for patients, who often plan their working and family lives around the proposed operation date.

A retrospective evaluation of cancellations of scheduled elective and urgent operations was done using theatre records from May 2006 to April 2007. The reasons for cancellation were examined.
Of a total of 5 786 operations, 5.6% were cancelled or postponed. Lack of medical clearance and patient preparation (65.1%) was the most common reason for cancellation. Lack or failure of instruments and patient cancellation constituted 2.8% and 1.8% of the cancellations respectively.
Last-minute cancellation of surgery was a significant problem, and appreciation of the usual reasons for cancellations can improve theatre utilisation and avoid inconveniencing patients and their families.


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