Characteristics and costs of surgical scheduling errors

Rebecca L. Wu, Arthur H. Aufses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Errors that increase the risk of wrong-side/-site procedures not only occur the day of surgery but also are often introduced much earlier during the scheduling process. The frequency of these booking errors and their effects are unclear. Methods: All surgical scheduling errors reported in the institution's medical event reporting system from January 1, 2011, to July 31, 2011, were analyzed. Focus groups with operating room nurses were held to discuss delays caused by scheduling errors. Results: Of 17,606 surgeries, there were 151 (.86%) booking errors. The most common errors were wrong side (55, 36%), incomplete (38, 25%), and wrong approach (25, 17%). Focus group participants said incomplete and wrong-approach bookings resulted in the longest delays, averaging 20 minutes and costing at least $320. Conclusions: Although infrequent, scheduling errors disrupt operating room team dynamics, causing delays and bearing substantial costs. Further research is necessary to develop tools for more accurate scheduling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Booking errors
  • Safety
  • Scheduling errors
  • Wrong-site surgery


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