Incidence and causes of cancellations of elective operation on the intended day of surgery at a tertiary referral academic medical center in Ethiopia

Patient Saf Surg. 2018 Aug 27:12:25. doi: 10.1186/s13037-018-0171-3. eCollection 2018.


Background: Elective surgical case cancellation refers to any elective surgical case that is the list on the day prior to surgery but not operated upon as scheduled. Case cancellation has a major cause of psychological trauma to patients and their families. Despite little is known in Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to assess incidence and reasons of cancellations of elective operation on the intended day of surgery at tertiary referral academic medical center in Ethiopia.

Methods: A prospective hospital-based cross-sectional study design was conducted in a tertiary referral academic medical center in Ethiopia among 146 participants. A self-administered questionnaire with an observatory checklist was used for collecting data from the anesthetist, nurse, and surgeons.

Result: In this study, 462 patients were scheduled for elective surgical operations. Among those, nearly almost one-third 146 (31.6%) of the operations were cancelled and 316 (68.4%) patients were operated on their planned date. The most common reason for cancellation were surgeon related (35.8%), patient related (28.7%), management related (21.2%) and anesthesia related factors (14. 4%). The cancellation was mainly due to improper scheduling (20.5%%), unavailability of surgeons (8.9%), unavailability of oxygen and blood (8%) and equipment (5.5%). Orthopedic (28.8%) and general surgery (17.1%) were the commonest cancelled cases.

Conclusion: The cancellation rate in our academic medical center remains high. Improper scheduling, unavailability of surgeons, medical illness, and unavailability of operating room equipment were the commonest reason for the cancellation of elective operation. Most cancellations were preventable. For this, proper preoperative assessment, proper scheduling, fulfilling necessary operating room equipment's and cross-matched blood by the hospital and other stakeholders, early clear communication with operating room team like surgeons was recommended.

Keywords: Cancellation; Elective surgery; Ethiopia; Operating theatre.