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Anesth Analg. 2008 Jan;106(1):215-26, table of contents. doi: 10.1213/01.ane.0000289641.92927.b9.

Tactical increases in operating room block time for capacity planning should not be based on utilization.

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Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


When a decision has been made to expand operating room (OR) capacity, the choice of surgical subspecialties to receive additional block time and fill the additional OR capacity is a tactical decision. Such decisions are made approximately once a year. Afterwards, typically a few months before the day of surgery, a second stage occurs in which operational decisions allocate OR time and determine the hours of staffing for each specialty based on its expected workload. In practice, cases are not scheduled into block time that has been planned tactically, but instead are scheduled during the second stage into the staffed time that is allocated operationally. This article reviews the literature on tactical decision-making for expansion of OR capacity. When additional OR capacity is available, it should be planned for those subspecialties that have the greatest contribution margin per OR hour, that have the potential for growth, and that have minimal need for limited resources such as intensive care unit beds. Numerous reasons are presented to explain why tactical planning of additional block time should not be based on current or past utilization of block time.

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