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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361

S. Afr. j. surg. vol.46 n.3 Cape Town Aug. 2008




Why is surgery cancelled? A retrospective evaluation



I. Chamisa

F.R.C.S., F.C.S. (S.A.); Department of General Surgery, Prince Mishyeni Memorial Hospital, and University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban




INTRODUCTION: 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.
METHODS: 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.
RESULTS: 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.
CONCLUSION: 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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