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Anesth Analg. 2005 May;100(5):1425-32, table of contents.

Tactical decision making for selective expansion of operating room resources incorporating financial criteria and uncertainty in subspecialties' future workloads.

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  • 1Division of Management Consulting, Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


We considered the allocation of operating room (OR) time at facilities where the strategic decision had been made to increase the number of ORs. Allocation occurs in two stages: a long-term tactical stage followed by short-term operational stage. Tactical decisions, approximately 1 yr in advance, determine what specialized equipment and expertise will be needed. Tactical decisions are based on estimates of future OR workload for each subspecialty or surgeon. We show that groups of surgeons can be excluded from consideration at this tactical stage (e.g., surgeons who need intensive care beds or those with below average contribution margins per OR hour). Lower and upper limits are estimated for the future demand of OR time by the remaining surgeons. Thus, initial OR allocations can be accomplished with only partial information on future OR workload. Once the new ORs open, operational decision-making based on OR efficiency is used to fill the OR time and adjust staffing. Surgeons who were not allocated additional time at the tactical stage are provided increased OR time through operational adjustments based on their actual workload. In a case study from a tertiary hospital, future demand estimates were needed for only 15% of surgeons, illustrating the practicality of these methods for use in tactical OR allocation decisions.

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