Introducing an orthopaedic trauma list to a regional hospital: Improved efficiencies and patient outcomes

Publication Name

Australian Journal of Rural Health


Problem: The lack of dedicated theatre time for orthopaedic surgeries at a small rural hospital meant that operations were regularly performed after hours as well as on weekends. Design: Retrospective observational audit. Setting: Data were collected for 317 patients admitted for trauma surgery between August 2019 and March 2020 at Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital, which has an orthopaedic service and acts as a referral hospital for a 4561-km2 catchment on the South Coast of New South Wales. Key measures for improvement: Decreased time to surgery, length of stay and proportion of after-hours operating. Strategies for change: To quantify patient outcomes demonstrating effectiveness of the trauma list in theatre operations at the hospital, providing evidence for adequate provision of care at the rural location A reduction in out-of-hours operations results in a significant financial saving to the hospital, as well as increased safety to patients. Effects of change: Significantly more operations were performed before 16:00 hours as well as on a weekday. Trauma list patients have a shorter length of stay (4.82 vs 7.8 days). Patients prior to the trauma list waited on average 89 hours for surgery, whereas patients on the trauma list waited only 43 hours. Lessons Learnt: A dedicated, twice-weekly orthopaedic trauma list is able to significantly reduce after hours and weekend surgeries. Patients placed on the trauma list had a significantly shorter length of stay and time to surgery. We therefore recommend the usage of dedicated trauma lists at small, regional sites not just to achieve cost savings but also to improve the patient journey and keep patients closer and returning to the home sooner.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access





First Page


Last Page




Link to publisher version (DOI)