Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia

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Cancellation of elective surgical procedures in the university teaching hospital center Yalgado Ouedraogo in Burkina Faso: incidence, reasons and proposals for improvement

Martin Lankoande, P Bonkoungou, S.I.S. Traore, R.A.F. Kabore, E Ouangre, P Pendeville


Background: Cancellation of scheduled surgery leads to operating theatre under-occupancy and is recognised as a major cause of emotional trauma to patients and their families. This study aimed to assess the incidence of elective surgery cancellation in order to make proposals for healthcare improvement.

Methods: A prospective study was undertaken on cancellation of scheduled surgery in the general surgery service. Cancellation is considered to have occurred when planned surgery did not take place on the day it was scheduled and recognised as ‘final’ when it was no longer considered at a later date. Cancellations were classed as ‘avoidable’ or ‘unavoidable’.

Results: A total of 103 surgeries were scheduled for patients with an average age of 41.1 years. Abdominal surgery (36.9%) dominated and 63.1% (n = 65) of the operations were scheduled. Some 36.9% (n = 38) of interventions were delayed, of which 9.7% (n = 10) were definitively cancelled and 27.2% (n = 28) were carried forward. Half of the cancellations (47.4%) were related to equipment and 31.6% related to patient factors. Hospital-related cancellation accounted for 63.9%. Cancellation was avoidable in 68.5% of cases. A financial cause was relevant for 16.6% (n = 6) and 2.6% of cancellations were due to a ‘long preceding intervention’.

Conclusion: The impact of cancellation is high and better organisation and communication between relevant role players within the operating theatre should reduce unnecessary cancellation.

Keywords: cancellation, elective surgery, operating theatre
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