Nurses' Calls Decrease Day-of-Surgery Cancellations

Preoperative calls result in decrease in cancellation rate, increased patient satisfaction

THURSDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Nurse-to-patient telephone calls three days prior to scheduled surgery result in a significant decrease in the daily cancellation rate, increased patient satisfaction scores, and increased operating room use, according to a study published in the July issue of the AORN Journal.

Kimberly Haufler, R.N., and Mary Harrington, B.S.N., R.N., from the University of North Carolina Health Care Ambulatory Surgical Center in Chapel Hill, investigated the reasons behind day-of-surgery cancellations. Nurses made a preoperative phone call three business days before scheduled surgery and following a set script with the patients to convey important information and address any concerns. The nurses reported back any new information or concerns to the clinic and surgical team. Data were collected over a two-year period, for 18 months before the intervention and for six months after the project began.

The investigators found that the three main reasons behind same-day cancellations were no-shows (the patient simply did not appear and gave no reason when contacted), the patient had eaten solid food in the eight hours before surgery, and the patient was not accompanied by a responsible adult who could receive discharge instructions and transport the patient home. All of these factors point to a need for better patient education. During the six months of the project, the daily cancellation rate decreased by 53 percent, patient satisfaction scores increased, and operating room use increased.

"Scripting and advance calls by nurses are an effective way to communicate to patients the reasons for preoperative restrictions and the consequences of not following them," the authors write.

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