Organization of surgical services and operating room efficiency in Norwegian hospitals

Dag Bratlid, Svein Petter Raknes


Background Most studies on operating room (OR) efficiency have focused on how local factors within the surgical facilities (micro level), such as turnover time, case duration and non-operative time, affects operating room efficiency. Few studies have analyzed how different strategies for organizing surgical services on the departmental or hospital level (macro level) might affect OR efficiency.

Norwegian hospitals have organized their surgical services on the macro level along two different strategies. Most hospitals have separate facilities for out-patient surgery and in-patient surgery, often also geographically separated. Most hospitals also have specialty specific OR (orthopedics, gastroenterology, gynecology etc.), while in other hospitals different subspecialties share the same OR. This study was undertaken to analyze any effect of these different organizational strategies in relation to OR efficiency.

Methods Data on organization of surgical services and operation volume for 2009 was gathered from eleven Norwegian university and larger county hospitals with a similar case mix. Total OR efficiency and OR efficiency during ordinary work hours were analyzed separately for out-patient and in-hospital surgery, including emergency operations. Calculation of OR during ordinary hours (8am-3pm) was based on 230 workdays per year, and included emergency operations.

Results OR efficiency was 721 operations per OR per year with a range from 525 to 1049 and was not related to the different strategies for organizing these services. Furthermore, no correlation was found between OR efficiency and operation volume or number of OR. OR efficiency during ordinary hours and workdays was 3.6 operations per day for out-patient surgery and 1.8 for in-patient surgery including emergency operations. This was considerably less than standards used in planning surgical facilities in Norwegian hospitals.

Conclusion OR efficiency is probably more related to organization of the surgical services on the micro level than to strategies for organizing these services on the macro level. The large variation in operating room efficiency in Norwegian hospitals indicates that many hospitals have a potential for improvement. The discrepancy between actual OR efficiency and standards used for planning of surgical facilities represents a challenge in future hospital planning.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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