Operations cancelled as fasting advice is flouted at Sheffield hospitals

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PATIENTS who failed to follow instructions not to eat before surgery caused the cancellation of 40 operations - including major skull surgery – at Sheffield hospitals in the last year.

Figures obtained by The Star under our Your Right To Know campaign show 40 ops at the Northern General and Royal Hallamshire hospitals had to be abandoned at the 11th hour because nil-by-mouth advice had not been followed.

It was not clear how many were postponed because people deliberately disregarded instructions. Health chiefs said only ‘a tiny proportion’ of patients fail to follow pre-surgery advice.

Cancelled surgery included a 49-year-old man’s hernia repair, cranioplasty for a skull defect in a 28-year-old man, and the removal of an object from a 20-year-old woman’s foot. Eleven cancellations were for female patients, and 29 for males.

Dr David Throssell, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust performs over 45,000 operations every year and only a tiny proportion of patients do not adhere to advice given prior to surgery.

“Patients are usually asked to be ‘nil by mouth’ if they are having or may need a general anaesthetic. General anaesthetics have a known series of risks and eating solid food within four hours of the planned surgery time can contribute to potential risks.”

The data covered last November to this November. Factors in the cancelled operations could be patients disregarding instructions, patients not getting or not understanding instructions, being fed by staff inadvertently, or being given the wrong admission time. The trust had no information on the estimated cost of the cancelled surgeries.

What’s your experience? What can be done about this issue? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk