Safety and affordability of an elective Saturday list at Pietersburg Hospital, Limpopo, South Africa
Background. The backlog of patients waiting for operations continues to be a problem in many public hospitals in South Africa (SA), with elective surgery procedures being postponed for up to 2 years.
Objective. To determine the rate of death in hospital or out of hospital within 30 days of an elective procedure performed on a Saturday, and to determine the cost incurred by paying staff members who perform these operations.
Method. A prospective, observational descriptive cohort study of all patients undergoing inpatient general surgery operations during weekdays and weekends between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016 (1 year) at Pietersburg Hospital (PBH), Limpopo, SA. Microsoft Excel 2010 (Microsoft, USA) was used to analyse and derive descriptive statistics. The finance department at the hospital calculated the overtime pay for theatre staff who operated on Saturdays.
Results. The study included 1 352 operations (607 elective and 745 emergency procedures). Saturday elective operations contributed 133/607 (22%), and the rate of death for these operations was 1.5%. The most common procedures performed on a Saturday were hernia repair and amputation. The cost for 8 hours of work on a Saturday was ZAR13 900, amounting to a total of ZAR333 600 for 24 Saturdays.
Conclusion. Performing minor surgery on a Saturday had a mortality rate of 1.5%, and a theatre staff cost of ~ZAR2 317 per patient, excluding surgeons’ fees. If surgeons were to be paid the costs would be ZAR3 450 per patient.