Making Management Decisions on the Day of Surgery Based on Operating Room Efficiency and Patient Waiting Times

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The authors review the scientific literature on operating room management operational decision making on the day of surgery. (1) Some decisions should rely on the expected (mean) duration of the scheduled case. Other decisions should use upper prediction bounds, lower prediction bounds, and other measures reflecting the uncertainty of case duration estimates. One single number cannot be used for good decision making, because durations are uncertain. (2) Operational decisions can be made on the day of surgery based on four ordered priorities. (3) Decisions to reduce overutilized operating room time rely on mean durations. Limited additional data are needed to make these decisions well, specifically, whether a patient is in each operating room and which cases are about to finish. (4) Decisions involving reducing patient (and surgeon) waiting times rely on quantifying uncertainties in case durations, which are affected highly by small sample sizes. Future studies should focus on using real-time display of data to reduce patient waiting.

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