Operative reports (ORs) serve as the official documentation of surgical procedures. They are essential for optimal patient care, physician accountability and billing, and direction for clinical research and auditing. Nonstandardized narrative reports are often of poor quality and lacking in detail. We sought to audit the completeness of narrative inguinal hernia ORs.
A standardized checklist for inguinal hernia repair (IHR) comprising 33 variables was developed by consensus of 4 surgeons. Five high-volume IHR surgeons categorized items as essential, preferable or nonessential. We audited ORs for open IHR at 6 academic hospitals.
We audited 213 ORs, and we excluded 7 femoral hernia ORs. Tension-free repairs were the most common (82.5%), and the plug-and-patch technique was the most frequent (52.9%). Residents dictated 59% of ORs. Of 33 variables, 15 were considered essential and, on average, 10.8 ± 1.3 were included. Poorly reported elements included first occurrence versus recurrent repair (8.3%), small bowel viability in incarcerated hernias (10.7%) and occurrence of intraoperative complications (32.5%). Of 18 nonessential elements, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, preoperative antibiotics and urgency were reported in 1.9%, 11.7% and 24.3% of ORs, respectively. Repair-specific details were reported in 0 to 97.1% of ORs, including patch sutured to tubercle (55.1%) and location of plug (67.0%).
Completeness of IHR ORs varied with regards to essential and nonessential items but were generally incomplete, suggesting there is opportunity for improvement, including implementation of a standardized synoptic OR.