Author(s): MacDonald JB, Dutton MJ, Stott DJ, Hamblen DL
Valuable orthopaedic operating time is frequently lost because patients are found to be medically unfit for surgery on admission. One hundred and forty seven consecutive patients aged 60 years or older, who had been accepted for major joint replacement and who lived within 15 miles of the Western Infirmary, Glasgow were screened at a preadmission clinic. The screening protocol had been agreed by orthopaedic and anaesthetic staff involved in major joint replacement surgery. Some 42 patients had medical illnesses which would have resulted in surgery being postponed and a further five had their surgery cancelled. Six patients passed fit for surgery at the pre-admission screening clinic were unfit for surgery on admission. Two patients in this group had their surgery cancelled. Using the guidelines suggested, pre-admission screening could be carried out by the patient's general practitioner (GP) or by a member of the medical staff when the patient attends the orthopaedic out-patient clinic. By following a simple protocol the amount of valuable operating time lost through unrecognised or poorly controlled medical illness could be greatly reduced. Pre-admission screening should result in more efficient use of scarce hospital resources and improved patient care.