Archive January 2018 XIX, No. 1

No More No-Shows

Tips to prevent cancelled cases and empty ORs.

Anna Merriman

Anna Merriman, Associate Editor


KEPT WAITING Last-minute cancellations can wreak havoc on your schedule and waste precious OR minutes.

Nothing can put a hole in your schedule and a kink in your day like a cancelled case, especially when the patient who bailed on you doesn't give you enough notice to prevent your OR from sitting cold and empty.

No-shows are no joke, finds an Outpatient Surgery survey of 62 readers. Nearly half (47%) of our respondents classify cancellations as a "problem" and 16% consider them a "serious problem."

"It wreaks havoc on my staffing — paying for a full day of anesthesia and only having 1 or 2 cases or sometimes none," says Kim Merrill, RN, BSN, nurse administrator at Harford County Ambulatory Surgery Center in Edgewood, Md. Others report having to cancel a per-diem they brought in to assist on a busy day because of patient cancellations.

Our panel says patients usually give precious little notice when they cancel a case — 15.6% call out on the day of surgery and 46.9% cancel the day before surgery. A last-minute cancellation is a dagger to the schedule, an almost certain guarantee that the OR will sit empty because it doesn't give you enough time to ask another patient to come in early or to offer the slot to another surgeon.

More than one-third of our panel (34.4%) say patients are courteous enough to cancel a few days before surgery. "If we can get a cancellation as far out as 3 days, then we can fill it with someone else that is on a waiting list," says Polly Ladd, RN, CGRN, BSN, clinical nurse manager at Crowne Point Endoscopy & Surgery Center in Flint, Mich.

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