The frequency with which routine preoperative blood test results predict perioperative or postoperative complications is insignificant. The unnecessary ordering of routine tests increases the financial costs and patients' distress. The authors evaluated the effects of routine preoperative testing on patient management and the overall financial costs.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records and laboratory data for 355 children admitted to the neurosurgical department for elective procedures over a 5-year period (January 2008–December 2012). They excluded all patients admitted for imaging or surgical procedures requiring local anesthesia, and they recorded the results of preoperative and previous (up to 6 months before surgery) blood tests and any abnormalities noted.
As a result of the 3489 blood tests ordered preoperatively for 328 (94.6%) of the 355 patients, 29 abnormalities (9%) were detected. Most of these abnormal values were near the reference range, and none significantly affected the progression of scheduled procedures. For only 1 patient (0.28%) was the procedure cancelled because of an abnormality (preoperative partial thromboplastin time), which further testing showed to be a false-positive result. The cost of these tests over 5 years was 5205–10,410 euros ($6766–$13,533 US).
Preoperative tests should be selectively requested on the basis of clinical indication.