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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Case review analysis of operating room decisions to cancel surgery

Ju-Hsin Chang1, Ke-Wei Chen2, Kuen-Bao Chen1, Kin-Shing Poon1 and Shih-Kai Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, 2 Yuh-Der Rd., Taichung 40447, Taiwan

2 Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:47  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-47

Published: 23 July 2014



Cancellation of surgery close to scheduled time causes a waste of healthcare resources. The current study analyzes surgery cancellations occurring after the patient has been prepared for the operating room, in order to see whether improvements in the surgery planning process may reduce the number of cancellations.


In a retrospective chart review of operating room surgery cancellations during the period from 2006 to 2011, cancellations were divided into the following categories: inadequate NPO; medical; surgical; system; airway; incomplete evaluation. The relative use of these reasons in relation to patient age and surgical department was then evaluated.


Forty-one percent of cancellations were for other than medical reasons. Among these, 17.7% were due to incomplete evaluation, and 8.2% were due to family issues. Sixty seven percent of cancelled cases eventually received surgery. The relative use of individual reasons for cancellation varied with patient age and surgical department. The difference between cancellations before and after anesthesia was dependent on the causes of cancellation, but not age, sex, ASA status, or follow-up procedures required.


Almost half of the cancellations were not due to medical reasons, and these cancellations could be reduced by better administrative and surgical planning and better communication with the patient and/or his family.

Preoperative care; Surgical procedures; Appointments and schedules