Nonclinical Factors Affecting PACU Discharge: A Clinical Audit in a One-Day Surgery Unit

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Abstract

Purpose:

To determine the nonclinical causes of delayed discharge from the postanesthesia care unit (PACU).

Design:

A prospective observational study.

Methods:

Over a 2-month period, data were collected on 576 patients who were transferred to the clinical areas from PACU after surgery. Patients were considered ready for discharge after they had achieved a satisfactory discharge score.

Findings:

The most common documented reason for nonclinical delayed discharge was lack of available transport (45.5%; n = 310) followed by bed availability (13%; n = 89) and the receiving registered nurse's readiness to accept a transfer from PACU (7.3%; n = 50).

Conclusions:

Nonclinical delays account for a considerable extension of a patient's time in PACU. The findings of this study suggest that understanding and addressing the causes of delayed discharge in PACU may help to improve patient flow and reduce discharge times. Future research should include the cost associated with these delays and assess the effectiveness of interventions introduced to eliminate such delays.

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