Associated Roles of Perioperative Medical Directors and Anesthesia: Hospital Agreements for Operating Room Management


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Abstract

As reviewed previously, decision making can be made systematically shortly before the day of surgery based on reducing the hours of overutilized operating room (OR) time and tardiness of case starts (i.e., patient waiting). We subsequently considered in 2008 that such decision making depends on rational anesthesia—hospital agreements specifying anesthesia staffing. Since that prior study, there has been a substantial increase in understanding of the timing of decision making to reduce overutilized OR time. Most decisions substantively influencing overutilized OR time are those made within 1 workday before the day of surgery and on the day of surgery, because only then are ORs sufficiently full that case scheduling and staff assignment decisions affect overutilized OR time. Consequently, anesthesiologists can easily be engaged in such decisions, because generally they must be involved to ensure that the corresponding anesthesia staff assignments are appropriate. Despite this, at hospitals with >8 hours of OR time used daily in each OR, computerized recommendations are superior to intuition because of cognitive biases. Decisions need to be made by a Perioperative Medical Director who has knowledge of the principles of perioperative managerial decision making published in the scientific literature rather than by a committee lacking this competency. Education in the scientific literature, and when different analytical methods should be used, is important. The addition that we make in this article is to show that an agreement between an anesthesia group and a hospital can both reduce overutilized OR time and patient waiting:The anesthesia group and hospital will ensure, hourly, that, when there are case(s) waiting to start, the number of ORs in use for each service will be at least the number that maximizes the efficiency of use of OR time. Neither the anesthesia group nor the hospital will be expected to run more than that number of ORs without mutual agreement.Agreements assure that processes mutually beneficial to organizations, but not necessarily to individuals at each point in time, are performed as designed, especially in the setting of cognitive biases.

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