We describe a process for studying and improving baseline postanesthesia care unit (PACU)-to-floor transfer times after total joint replacements.Design:
Quality improvement project using lean methodology.Methods:
Phase I of the investigational process involved collection of baseline data. Phase II involved developing targeted solutions to improve throughput. Phase III involved measured project sustainability.Findings:
Phase I investigations revealed that patients spent an additional 62 minutes waiting in the PACU after being designated ready for transfer. Five to 16 telephone calls were needed between the PACU and the unit to facilitate each patient transfer. The most common reason for delay was unavailability of the unit nurse who was attending to another patient (58%). Phase II interventions resulted in transfer times decreasing to 13 minutes (79% reduction, P < .001). Phase III recorded sustained transfer times at 30 minutes, a net 52% reduction (P < .001) from baseline.Conclusions:
Lean methodology resulted in the immediate decrease of PACU-to-floor transfer times by 79%, with a 52% sustained improvement. Our methods can also be used to improve efficiencies of care at other institutions.