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Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2006 Spring;22(2):255-60.

Managing urgent surgery as a process: Case study of a trauma center.

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Helsinki University of Technology, Esposo, Finland.



Industrial management principles could be used to improve the quality and efficiency of health care. In this study, we have evaluated the effects of a process management approach to trauma patient care. The major objective was to reduce the waiting times and increase the efficiency of the hospital.


Urgent surgery care was analyzed as an overall process. The process development followed the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and was based on statistical analysis of certain performance metrics. Data were collected from hospital databases and by personnel interviews. To develop the process, the anesthesia induction was performed outside the operating room, better process guidance was developed, and patient flow was reorganized. The transition time for these changes was 1 year (2002 to 2003).


Waiting times decreased by 20.5 percent (p < .05), nonoperative times in the operating room were reduced by 23.1 percent (p < .001), and efficiency was increased by 9.7 percent (p < .001) after reengineering of the care process. Overtime hours decreased by 30.9 percent.


Managing urgent surgical care as a process can improve the productivity and quality of care without a need to increase personnel resources. The focus should be on reducing waiting times and waste times.

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