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Abstracts and Programme: EUROANAESTHESIA 2011: The European Anaesthesiology Congress: Evidence-based Practice and Quality Improvement

Does the safe surgery check list delay the start of the theatres?


Vats, A.; Marbaniang, M.; Gupta, P.

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European Journal of Anaesthesiology: June 2011 - Volume 28 - Issue - p 11
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Safe surgery check list was introduced in the UK in February 2010 as a mandatory additional requirement as it has been shown to reduce surgical complications and mortality1. The check needs to be carried out before the start of the theatre and requires the presence of full theatre team i.e. surgeon, anaesthetist, theatre assistant, scrub nurses etc. The team goes through a structured questionnaire which may take upto 5 minutes. We assessed the impact of introduction of this checklist at theatre start time i.e. theatre efficiency, at a tertiary level hospital.

The first patient for the morning session can only be called to the theatre after the check list is completed. The time the first patient was called to theatre, before and after the introduction of the check lists i.e January 2009 and May 2010 was compared. Data was collected for 23 theatres (631 sessions) and was categorised in five groups ( plastics, ENT/ophthalmics, major general surgery, gynaecology and other theatres). An independent person extracted this data from the theatre electronic tracking system. The data from each group was then collated and analysed using ‚IBM SPSS Statistics 17‘ software. Table 1 shows the results for these five groups. Our null hypothesis was that the introduction of check lists had no impact on the theatre start time i.e. time first patient was called for.

[Table 1. Theatre start times for different groups]

The results suggest that the lists started earlier in plastics, major general surgery and gynaecology (range 1.5 minutes to 7 minutes approx.) and late in ENT, opthalmics and other theatres (range 30 seconds to 7 minutes approx.). Null hypothesis was accepted as the differences were not found to be significant in any group ( p value > 0.05).

Our study is the first study which clearly demonstrates that safe surgical check lists do not have any significant impact on theatre start time i.e. theatre efficiency and productivity.


1. de Vries EN et al N Engl J Med 2010;363:1928-37.
© 2011 European Society of Anaesthesiology