Late cancellations of scheduled operations cause direct and indirect costs for a hospital and economic and emotional stress for the patient. Previously, late cancellation rates for scheduled operations in plastic surgery have been shown to be attributable to patient-related causes in the majority of cases. In this retrospective study, we sought to examine specifically the patient-related reasons for the late cancellations in a plastic surgery operating theatre at Helsinki University Hospital in Finland from 2013 to 2014. We calculated latency between the date of decision for surgery and the scheduled operation day. In cases where the surgery was rescheduled and performed before 31 December 2015, the rescheduled waiting time latency was calculated. We aimed to improve our knowledge of the causes of late cancellations to further optimise the operating theatre efficiency and propose a strategic algorithm to avoid late cancellations During the study period, 327 (5.5%) of all the scheduled operations were recorded as late cancellations. Of these, 45.3% were because of patient-related issues. Acute infection, change in medical condition not noticed before and operation no longer necessary were by far the most common causes of cancellation, comprising 63.5%. Sixty-six per cent of patient-related cancelled operations were performed later, especially when the specific reason was patient’s acute illness. Root-cause analysis shows that most of the underlying reasons for the cancellations can be attributed to a failure in communication. The majority of these cancellations were considered to be preventable, thus emphasising the importance of communication and skilful multi-professional planning of the operating theatre list.© 2018 The Author(s).
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