Open Access Research article

Impact of changed management policies on operating room efficiency

Birgithe E Sandbaek1*, Berit I Helgheim1, Odd I Larsen1 and Sigurd Fasting2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Economics, Informatics and Social Sciences, Molde University College, Specialized University in Logistics, PB 2110, 6402 Molde, Norway

2 Department of Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine, St Olav University Hospital, Trondheim N-7006, Norway

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:224  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-224

Published: 20 May 2014

Abstract

Background

To increase operating room (OR) efficiency, a new resource allocation strategy, a new policy for patient urgency classification, and a new system for OR booking was implemented at a tertiary referral hospital. We investigated the impact of these interventions.

Methods

We carried out a before-and-after study using OR data. A total of 23 515 elective (planned) and non-elective (unplanned) orthopaedic and general surgeries were conducted during calendar year 2007 (period 1) and July 2008 to July 2009 (period 2). The Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney test was used to calculate statistical significance.

Results

An increased amount of case time (7.1%, p < 0.05) was conducted without any increase in out-of-hours case time. Despite having three fewer ORs for electives, slightly more elective case time was handled with 26% less use of overtime (p < 0.05). Mean OR utilization was 56% for the 17 mixed ORs, 60% for the 14 elective ORs, and 62% for the 3 dedicated ORs. A 20% growth (p < 0.05) of non-elective case time was primarily absorbed through enhanced daytime surgery, which increased over 48% (p < 0.05). As a result, the proportions of case time on evenings and nights decreased. Specifically, case time at night decreased by 26% (p < 0.05), and the number of nights without surgery increased from 55 to 112 (out of 315 and 316, respectively). Median waiting time for the middle urgencies increased with 1.2 hours, but over 90% received treatment within maximum acceptable waiting time (MAWT) in both periods. Median waiting time for the lowest urgencies was reduced with 12 hours, and the proportion of cases treated within MAWT increased from 70% to 89%. The proportion of high urgency patients (as a proportion of the total) was reduced from 20% to 12%. Consequently, almost 90% of the operations could be planned at least 24 hours in advance.

Conclusions

The redesign facilitated effective daytime surgery and a more selective use of the ORs for high urgency patients out of hours. The synergistic effect probably exceeded the sum of the individual effects of the changes, because the effects of each intervention facilitated the successful implementation of others.

Keywords:
Dedicated operating room; Emergency surgery; Operating room efficiency; OR booking; Patient classification; Priority setting; Resource allocation