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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


ASMAL, I I; KEERATH, K  and  CRONJE, L. An audit of operating theatre utilisation and day-of-surgery cancellations at a regional hospital in the Durban metropole. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.10, pp.765-770. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Operating theatres account for a significant proportion of hospital costs. There is a paucity of data evaluating utilisation of South African (SA) state operating theatres. OBJECTIVES. To measure operating theatre utilisation and the rate of day-of-surgery cancellations (DOSCs) in a state hospital theatre complex. METHODS. A prospective audit of a state operating theatre complex at a Durban regional hospital was performed between 26 February and 26 April 2018. Times were collected for each theatre case from the entry of the patient into theatre to their departure to the post-anaesthetic care unit. This was done on weekdays between 08h00 and 16h00. The factors causing any delays and DOSCs were identified and recorded. RESULTS. Over the study period, 125 220 operative minutes were available for both elective and emergency operating theatres; 655 elective cases and 359 emergency cases were performed. Overall theatre utilisation was 55.2%, with actual operating time comprising only 36.9% of all available time. Non-operative time occupied 63.1% of all available time, split between late starts (9.3%), early list finishes (16.1%), changeover times (19.4%) and anaesthetic time (18.3%). The DOSC rate was 26.2%, with 232 cases cancelled on the day of surgery. Just under half of the DOSCs were avoidable. The most common reason for cancellation was lack of operative time. CONCLUSIONS. Measured theatre utilisation was higher than previously quoted figures for SA state hospitals, but below international benchmarks. A significant amount of time was wasted as a result of delayed first-case starts, prolonged changeovers and early terminations of lists, all of which contributed to a high DOSC rate. Before more theatre time can be made available, theatre users must first optimise use of currently available time. Further studies quantifying the effect of staff shortages in state operating theatres on inefficient use of time are required.

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