Synoptic operative reports enhance documentation of best practices for rectal cancer

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Implementation of best practices surgical checklists improves patient safety and outcomes. However, documenting performance of these practices can be challenging. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons developed a Best Practices for Rectal Cancer Checklist (RCC) to standardize and improve the quality of rectal cancer surgery. This study compared the degree to which synoptic (SR) and narrative (NR) operative reports document RCC items.


Two reviewers independently reviewed a cohort of prospectively collected SR for rectal cancer surgery and a case-matched historical cohort of NR. Reports were reviewed for documentation of performance of operative items on the RCC. Abstraction time and inter-rater agreement were also measured.


SR scored significantly higher than NR on the overall checklist score (mean adjusted score ± standard deviation 12.4 ± 0.9 vs. 5.7 ± 1.9, maximum possible score 18, P < 0.001). Reviewers abstracted data significantly faster from SR. Inter-rater agreement between reviewers was high for both types of reports.


SR were associated with reliable and more complete and reliable documentation of items on the RCC. Use of an SR system standardizes operative reporting, providing the opportunity to enhance checklist compliance, and enable timely feedback to improve surgical outcomes for rectal cancer patients. J. Surg. Oncol. 2015; 112:555–560. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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