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Publication Date



DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2018.01.006; PMCID: PMC5881924


BACKGROUND: In 2012, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons published the Rectal Cancer Surgery Checklist, a consensus document listing 25 essential elements of care for all patients undergoing radical surgery for rectal cancer. The authors herein examine checklist adherence in a mature, multisurgeon specialty academic practice.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective medical record review of patients undergoing elective radical resection for rectal adenocarcinoma over a 23-mo period was conducted. Checklists were completed post hoc for each patient, and these results were tabulated to determine levels of compliance. Subgroup analyses by compliance and experience levels of the treating surgeon were performed.

RESULTS: A total of 161 patients underwent resection, demonstrating a median completion rate of 84% per patient. Poor compliance was noted consistently in documenting baseline sexual function (0%), multidisciplinary discussion of treatment plans (16.8%), pelvic nerve identification (8.7%) and leak testing (52.9%), and radial margin status reporting (57.5%). Junior surgeons achieved higher rates of compliance and were more likely to restage after neoadjuvant therapy (67.9% versus 29.4%, P < 0.001), discuss patients at tumor board (31.3% versus 13.2%, P = 0.014), and document leak testing (86.7% versus 47.2%, P = 0.005) compared with senior surgeons.

CONCLUSIONS: Checklist compliance within a high-volume, specialty academic practice remains varied. Only surgeon experience level was significantly associated with high checklist compliance. Junior surgeons achieved greater compliance with certain items, particularly those that reinforce decision-making. Further efforts to standardize rectal cancer care should focus on checklist implementation, targeted surgeon outreach, and assessment of checklist compliance correlation to clinical outcomes.

Journal Title

The Journal of surgical research



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MeSH Keywords

Adenocarcinoma; Aged; Anastomosis, Surgical; Anastomotic Leak; Benchmarking; Checklist; Clinical Competence; Clinical Decision-Making; Female; Guideline Adherence; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Neoadjuvant Therapy; Neoplasm Staging; Preoperative Care; Rectal Neoplasms; Rectum; Retrospective Studies


Cancer; Checklist; Compliance; Rectal; Surgery