You’ve heard the statistic before: according to various estimates, 60-70% of all hospital revenue is generated by the operating room. Thus, it’s a given that the need for surgeries to be conducted as scheduled is a very high priority for hospital administrators.
Not surprisingly, a recent study showed that hospitals lose millions each year when surgeries are cancelled, a trend that has a significant impact on the facility’s bottom line. Reasons for cancellations varied from patient no-shows (i.e., forgetting the surgery, lack of transportation) to issues at the hospital.
An interesting finding of this study is that when patients have a preoperative visit with an anesthesiologist, the cancelled surgery percentage decreases by two-thirds, from 11% to 4%. Among other recommendations, researchers suggested that hospitals require all patients to have the preoperative visit with the anesthesia service to ensure they are medically ready for surgery and are aware of the proper steps to take on the day of the procedure. Previous research has shown this method to be a useful strategy for hospitals.
Robert Goldstein, MD, chief medical officer of Somnia Anesthesia, was not surprised by the findings, but did stress caution that this may not be the optimal solution.
“There was a study many years ago that showed a preoperative visit from an anesthesiologist was more effective than the use of anti-anxiety medications alone in calming patients down before surgery,” said Dr. Goldstein. “So it is not a surprising result to see that cancellation rates are lower after a visit with an anesthesiologist.
“It may be simply calming fears and answering questions, and it may also be picking up on actual medical conditions that could unexpectedly prevent surgery from progressing. However, the balance here is that the cost of every patient having a preoperative visit could exceed the savings resulting from fewer cancellations.”