Decreasing the Hours That Anesthesiologists and Nurse Anesthetists Work Late by Making Decisions to Reduce the Hours of Over-Utilized Operating Room Time

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In this special article, we evaluate how to reduce the number of hours that anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists work beyond the end of their scheduled shifts. We limit consideration to surgical suites where the hours of cases in each operating room (OR) average 8 hours or more per day. Let “allocated hours” refer to the hours into which cases are scheduled, calculated months in advance for each combination of service and day of the week. Over-Utilized time is the OR workload exceeding allocated time. Reducing Over-Utilized time is the key to reducing the hours that anesthesia providers work late. Certain decisions that reduce Over-Utilized time and reduce the hours that anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists work late are made by the surgical committee or perioperative medical director months in advance. Such decisions include increasing the number of first case starts and planning staffing for turnovers and lunch breaks during the busiest times of the day. However, most decisions substantively influencing Over-Utilized OR time are made within 1 workday before the day of surgery and on the day of surgery, because only then are ORs sufficiently full that changes can be made to minimize Over-Utilized time. Decisions to reduce Over-Utilized time on the day of surgery include targeting ORs with expected Over-Utilized time and taking steps to reduce it, including making effective staff assignments and appropriately scheduling add-on cases.

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