Beyond clinical priority: what matters when making operational decisions about emergency surgical queues?
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Objective. This paper describes the perceptions of operating theatre staff in Australia and The Netherlands regarding the influence of logistical or operational reasons that may affect the scheduling of unplanned surgical cases. It is proposed that logistical or operational issues can influence the priority determination of queue position of surgical cases on the emergency waiting list. Methods. A questionnaire was developed and conducted in 15 hospitals across The Netherlands and Australia, targeting anaesthetists, managers, nurses and surgeons. Statistical analyses revolved around these four professional groups. Six hypotheses were then developed and tested based on the responses collected from the participants. Results. There were significant differences in perceptions of logistics delay factors across different professional groups when patients were waiting for unplanned surgery. There were also significant differences among different groups when setting logistical priority factors for planning and scheduling unplanned cases. The hypotheses tests confirm these differences, and the findings concur with the paradigmatic differences mentioned in the literature. These paradigmatic differences among the four professional groups may explain some of the tensions encountered when making decisions about scheduling emergency surgical queues, and therefore should be taken into consideration for management of operating theatres. Conclusions. Queue positions of patients waiting for unplanned surgery, or emergency surgery, are determined by medical clinicians according to clinicians’ indication of clinical priority. However, operating theatre managers are important in facilitating smooth operations when planning for emergency surgeries. It is necessary for surgeons to understand the logistical challenges faced by managers when requesting logistical priorities for their operations.
Australian Health Review
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