The design of the optimal preoperative evaluation is a much debated topic, with the anaesthetist-led in-person evaluation being most widely used. This approach is possibly leading to overuse of a valuable resource, especially in low-risk patients. Without compromising patient safety, we hypothesised that not all patients would require this type of elaborate evaluation.
The current scoping review aims to critically appraise the range and nature of the existing literature investigating alternatives to the anaesthetist-led preoperative evaluation and their impact on outcomes, to inform future knowledge translation and ultimately improve perioperative clinical practice.
Twenty-six studies with a total of 361 719 patients were included, reporting on various interventions: telephone evaluation, telemedicine evaluation, evaluation by questionnaire, surgeon-led evaluation, nurse-led evaluation, other types of evaluation and no evaluation up to the day of surgery. Most studies were conducted in the United States and were either pre/post or one group post-test-only studies, with only two randomised controlled trials. Studies differed largely in outcome measures and were of moderate quality overall.
A number of alternatives to the anaesthetists-led in-person preoperative evaluation have already been researched: that is telephone evaluation, telemedicine evaluation, evaluation by questionnaire and nurse-led evaluation. However, more high-quality research is needed to assess viability in terms of intraoperative or early postoperative complications, surgical cancellation, costs, and patient satisfaction in the form of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures and Patient-Reported Experience Measures.
- Alternatives to the anaesthetist-led in-person preoperative assessment seem viable options.
- In the authors’ opinion, an elaborate digital questionnaire, evaluating the physical condition of all preoperative patients, could be a valuable method.
- High quality RCT’s are needed to fill the knowledge gap and facilitate a base for a lasting, well structured transformation of preoperative evaluation.
- In future research, outcome measures should be standardised, e.g. same-day cancellation, complications, patient and provider satisfaction in the form of PREMS and PROMS, and costs.