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Delay of Surgery Start Time: Experience in a Nigerian Teaching Hospital.

Background: Operating room delay has multiple negative effects on the patients, surgical team, and the hospital system. Maximum utilization of the operating room requires on-time knife on the skin and efficient turnover. Knowledge of the reasons for the delay will form a basis toward proffering solutions.

Patients and Methods: This was a prospective study of all consecutive elective cases done over a 15-month period from January 2016 to March 2017. Using our departmental protocol that "knife on skin" for the first elective case should be 8.00am, the delay was defined as a surgery starting later than 8.00am for the first cases while the interval between the cases of >30 min for the knife on the skin was used for subsequent cases. Reasons for delay in all cases of delay were documented. The prevalence and causes of the delays were analyzed. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Of 1178 surgeries performed during the period of study, 1170 (99.3%) of cases were delayed. The mean delay time was 151 min for all cases. First on the list had a longer delay time than others; 198.9 min versus 108.5 min ( P = 0.000). Delay in the first cases accounted for 47.5% of all delayed cases. Overall, patient-related factor was the most common cause of delay (31.3%) followed in descending order by surgeon-related factor (28.5%) and hospital-related factor (26.2%). Patient-related factors accounted for 43.2% of first-case delays.

Conclusion: Delays encountered in this study were multifactorial and are preventable. Efforts should be directed at these different causes of delay in the theater to mitigate these delays and improve productivity.

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