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Type: Journal article
Title: A call centre and extended checklist for pre-screening elective surgical patients - a pilot study
Author: Ludbrook, G.
Seglenieks, R.
Osborn, S.
Grant, C.
Citation: BMC Anesthesiology, 2015; 15(1):77-1-77-6
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 1471-2253
Statement of
Guy Ludbrook, Richard Seglenieks, Shona Osborn, and Cliff Grant
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Novel approaches to preoperative assessment and management before elective surgery are warranted to ensure that a sustainable high quality service is provided. The benefits of a call centre incorporating an extended preoperative electronic checklist and phone follow-up as an alternative to a clinic attendance were examined. METHODS: This was a pilot study of a new method of patient assessment in patients scheduled for elective non-cardiac surgery and who attended a conventional preoperative clinic. A call centre assessment, using a Computer-assisted Health Assessment by Telephone (CHAT), paper review by an anaesthetist, and a follow-up phone call if the anaesthetist wished more information, preceded the conventional preoperative clinic. Summaries from the call centre and clinic assessments were independently produced. The times spent by call centre staff were recorded. The 'procedural anaesthetist' (who provided anaesthesia for each patient's actual surgery/procedure) documented an opinion on whether the call centre assessment alone would have been sufficient to bypass the preoperative clinic if the patient were hypothetically undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This opinion was also sought from a panel of four senior anaesthetists, based on patient summaries from both the call centre and preoperative clinic, but expanded to three hypothetical operations of different complexity – cataract removal, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and total hip replacement. RESULTS: Call centre assessment followed by clinic attendance was studied in 193 patients. The mean time for CHAT was 19.8 (SD 7.5) minutes and, after review of CHAT summaries, anaesthetists telephoned 45.6% of cases for follow-up information. The mean time spent by anaesthetists on summary review and phone calls was 3.8 (SD 3.9) minutes. Procedural anaesthetists considered 89% of the patients under their care suitable to have bypassed the preoperative clinic if they were to have undergone cholecystectomy. The panel of senior anaesthetists judged 95-97% of patients suitable to have bypassed preoperative clinic for cataract surgery, 81-85% for cholecystectomy and 79-82% for hip replacement. CONCLUSIONS: A call centre to pre-screen elective surgical patients might substantially reduce patient numbers attending preoperative anaesthetic assessment clinics. Further studies to assess the quality of such an approach are indicated. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ANZCTR ACTRN12614000199617.
Keywords: Anaesthesia; Preoperative assessment; Computer-assisted; CATI; Cost-benefit
Rights: © 2015 Ludbrook et al.; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030030261
DOI: 10.1186/s12871-015-0057-1
Appears in Collections:Medicine publications

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