Using an electronic perioperative documentation tool to identify returns to operating room (ROR) in a tertiary care academic medical center

Robert R. Cima, Sarah R. Dhanorker, Christopher L. Ostendorf, Mfonabasi Ntekpe, Raghu V. Mudundi, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Claude Deschamps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The metric "Unplanned returns to operating room (ROR)" is being tracked in surgical quality dashboards; 70% of unplanned RORs may be related to surgical complications. With increasing regionalization of trauma and complex surgical care at tertiary care academic centers, it is unclear if a simple ROR metric is a valid assessment of surgical quality at such centers. Method: A real-time electronic tool was used to identify all RORs-planned and unplanned-in a high-volume, highcomplexity academic surgical practice at Mayo Clinic-Rochester within 45 days of the index operation. Analysis by ROR type and indication was performed. Results: During the analysis period (June 2014-February 2015) 44,031 operations were performed, with 5,552 subsequent RORs (13%). Of all RORs, 51% (n = 2,818) were planned staged returns, 29% (n = 1,589) were unrelated, 15% (n = 830) were unplanned and 6% (n = 315) were planned because of previous complications. Overall, unplanned reoperations were uncommon (n = 830, 2% of all operations). The most common indications for unplanned RORs included "other" (32%, n = 266), bleeding related (24%, n = 198) and wound complications (20%, n = 166). Conclusion: In a high-volume, high-complexity academic surgical practice, RORs occurred after 13% of cases. Unplanned returns were infrequent and usually were associated with complications; most RORs were planned staged or unrelated returns. A simple ROR metric that does not consider planned/unrelated returns is likely not a valid surgical quality measure. Electronic tools designed specifically to identify in real-time RORs, associated indication, and clinical validation should provide more reliable data for public reporting and quality improvement efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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