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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 66-69

Innovative methods of maintaining operation records using the online Google spreadsheet

Department of Plastic Surgery, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (Deemed to be University), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission29-Sep-2018
Date of Decision24-Oct-2018
Date of Acceptance16-Jan-2019
Date of Web Publication18-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. B A Ramesh
Department of Plastic Surgery, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (Deemed to be University), No. 1, Ramachandra Nagar, Porur, Chennai - 600 116, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/fjs.fjs_103_18

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Background: Maintaining an operation record in any surgical department is mandatory. The current method is to make entries in a designated register manually. However, this method has disadvantages such as space occupancy, high maintenance cost, and difficulty in record compilation. Proper storing of medical records is necessary for future reference. We found that using the free online, Google spreadsheet for maintaining surgical records is an innovative and effective method.
Methods: Online Google spreadsheet entry September 2017 to August 2018 is compared with manual entry done from September 2016 to August 2017.
Results: This online method has the following advantages: fewer errors, low cost, free maintenance, and easy record compilation as per requirements. Finally, filters can be applied, and separate numbers for each category can be obtained.
Conclusion: The proposed method is useful, low cost, and versatile way of storing and retrieving operative records.

Keywords: Census, logbook, medical record, online Google spreadsheet, surgical record, surgical statistics

How to cite this article:
Ramesh B A, Viswanathan S, Manjunath S, Fernandez DD, Priyadarshini C, Shetty GB. Innovative methods of maintaining operation records using the online Google spreadsheet. Formos J Surg 2019;52:66-9

How to cite this URL:
Ramesh B A, Viswanathan S, Manjunath S, Fernandez DD, Priyadarshini C, Shetty GB. Innovative methods of maintaining operation records using the online Google spreadsheet. Formos J Surg [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Oct 23];52:66-9. Available from: https://www.e-fjs.org/text.asp?2019/52/2/66/256530

  Introduction Top

Medical record keeping date backs to the ancient Egyptian period, who maintained on a scroll of papyrus. Development of the clinical record in America was pioneered in the 19th century in major teaching hospitals.

In the modern world, the paper-based records were favorite till the end of the 20th century.[1] Maintaining accurate paper-based operation records is challenging for the surgical department. The traditional method is to write down details in a notebook at the end of surgery. However, compiling records according to the requirements of different needs using the traditional method is time-consuming. Moreover, if the well-written notebook is lost, the data are lost forever. To prevent this, the notebook needs to be photocopied or scanned and stored. Storing records using this method occupies space and incurs high costs. The rapid development of technology shifted record keeping to electronic format. The record keeping in the cloud using Google spreadsheet free tool described in the article.


The objective of our study is to use the Google spreadsheet as an innovative tool for compilation of the operative records in department.

  Methods Top

Our department has an operation theater in three different places in two separate blocks. One block has an operation theater on the sixth floor, and the other block has operation theaters on the fourth and fifth floors. Operations are performed on almost all days, except Monday, Sunday, and national holidays. Emergency surgery is conducted in the aforementioned units on all days. Because our specialty receives more referral cases, we also often tend to operate in other operation theaters. Individual registers are maintained for each operation theater, and the details are manually entered in these registers. The department secretary checks all entries and informs the consultants in case of any discrepancy in records. However, compiling cases from different places using this method is difficult. Case entries are missed frequently. Moreover, differentiating cases as per the requirements of the Medical Council of India (MCI) or any other regulatory body is difficult.

To address this problem, from September 2017, a separate Google ID was created for departmental use. In its Google drive, a separate excel spreadsheet was created for electives and emergencies. Each sheet has the following columns: serial number, name, age, sex, hospital ID, ward of admission, diagnosis, treatment given, surgeon, assistant names, case under which unit, date of admission, date of surgery, date of discharge, and the MCI format. The spreadsheet's link was shared to all residents and consultants. The residents and consultants downloaded the online Google spreadsheet to their own Google drive on their smartphone, Android or iPhone. The spreadsheet is made editable by anyone. The residents are advised to make an entry in the sheet after every surgery, mostly through their smartphone, because it is online and automatically gets updated in the cloud after each entry [Figure 1]. The department secretary counterchecks all entries on a daily basis and informs the consultant regarding any black space or correction. After necessary corrections, the secretary backs up the data at regular intervals to prevent sudden unexpected deletion. We found this to be a successful method for maintaining operation records and statistics.
Figure 1: Entry in online Google spreadsheet

Click here to view

Moreover, these data can be easily filtered as diagnosis, surgeon, unit, and any other parameter. For example, if we want to find the total number of burn cases, we can apply the word “burn” in the diagnosis column to filter only burn cases [Figure 2]. Sub filtering using the words scalds, chemical, and thermal can also be performed.
Figure 2: Creating filter to separate burn cases

Click here to view

  Results Top

The number of corrections made from September 2017 to August 2018 (12 months) was compared with that made during the use of the manual entry method from September 2016 to August 2017 (preceding 12 months). The total number of entries made using the online and manual methods for 12 months was 1116 and 1093, respectively. The number of corrections made in the online and manual methods was 35 and 113, respectively. This finding indicated that corrections made in the manual method were higher those made in the online method. The two resident's lack of training in microsurgery was noted in the first 4 months of our compilation. But because of online entry and easy sub filtering and viewing of who operated what, subsequent training lacunae were not there. The method of record keeping was also helpful to faculties while scoring annual performance-based appraisal. The feedback form for Google spreadsheet and manual methods was obtained from faculty and residents. The question on data entry scored the same in both methods for student and faculty. The items on data correction, ease of analyzing individual progress, knowing how peers perform and retrieving records with ease scored (strongly agree) more in the online spreadsheet than the manual entry for both faculty and student.

  Discussion Top

Maintaining operation records is crucial for planning, research, verification, and future reference. In the digital age, maintaining paper records is waste of resources.[1] Compared with the traditional method, the latest technology is more effective for data compilation. For digital records, many applications are available in both Android and iOS smartphones. However, the problem with such applications is their cost. Low-cost applications have fewer features and are not much useful. A good software application is available at a steep cost, and its maintenance is also expensive.[2] Buying a software for each resident and consultant is difficult. Some like, innovative method of video recording of microsurgery is useful as described by Kumar et al.[3] With advancing technology, software also needs to be updated to work in the latest gadgets. Thus, a better solution is to use free technology in an effective manner. In this article, the use of the free online Google spreadsheet is discussed as an effective method for maintaining surgical records in a large-volume center. The cost involved is zero because there is no need to purchase software or maintain different notebooks. After an initial rapid learning curve, it becomes easy to enter data. The digital data can be accessed at any place and time. The digital spreadsheet can be archived monthly to prevent data loss. The monthly archived data are not accessible to all, except consultant and secretary. The security and privacy are always taken care of as the link is shared only to faculties and residents in our institute. As long as they are in the institute, the stakeholders should abide by laws of the institute. The link sharing is removed to the faculty or resident while leaving the institute.

The current MCI regulation for the plastic surgery course specifies the list of surgeries to be performed. In the Google spreadsheet, another column can be added for the MCI format, and details can be entered as per the requirements of the MCI. Finally, filters can be applied, and separate numbers for each category can be obtained. The columns can be added or edited as per needs of the individual department.

The compliance of residents in entering details into the Google sheet is more favorable as each resident has a copy of the sheet in their account, and it can be used for thesis, logbook maintenance, presentation to examiner, and research purpose. For surgeons, applying their name in the filter provides a list of all cases assisted or operated by them. The short form of a name can be entered in the sheet. This can be subsequently replaced by an individual's full name. Another advantage is that a resident's lacunae in training can be easily identified, and appropriate steps can be taken.[4]

The method described by us can be extrapolated to any medical or surgical department for record keeping of OP or IP patients by entering specific headings as per their requirement. The advanced software from iOS can change the way record keeping has done today.[5],[6]

  Conclusion Top

The purpose of the article is to create awareness of an easy method of record keeping which can be extrapolated by any medical department. Using the Google spreadsheet is an easy, effective, low-cost, and innovative method for maintaining operation record statistics. The sharing of the spreadsheet link with residents helps to compile the operated case. The sheet may help to determine the surgical experience of residents. Both residents and consultants can use the sheet to monitor their operative experience over time and receive additional training where necessary.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Gillum RF. From papyrus to the electronic tablet: A brief history of the clinical medical record with lessons for the digital age. Am J Med 2013;126:853-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Adam A, Spencer K, Moon S, Jacub I. Smartphone, smart surgeon, what about a 'smart logbook'? S Afr J Surg 2016;54:36-42.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kumar Gupta S, Kumar A, Sharma A, Agrawal S, Katiyar V. Android smartphone as an alternative to operating microscope camera for recording high definition surgical videos: Setup and results. J MTM 2015;4:39-42. [doi: 10.7309/jmtm. 4.3.8].  Back to cited text no. 3
Highton L, Lamb A, Fitzgerald A, Wood S, Lees V, Winterton R, et al. An analysis of the operative experience of plastic surgery trainees in the United Kingdom using eLogbook. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2017;70:1464-71.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ritchi R. iOS 12 review: What's now for what's next. iMore; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 5
Hartmans A. Here are All the New Ways Apple Can Help You Combat Your Smartphone Addiction in iOS12. Business Insider;2018.  Back to cited text no. 6


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Using WhatsApp as a Quick-Access Personal Logbook for Maintaining Clinical Records and Follow-Up of Orthopedic Patients
Arvind Kumar,Yawar Haider,Mukesh Kumar,Rizwan Khan
Cureus. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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