Operating Room Utilization Alone is Not an Accurate Metric for the Allocation of Operating Room Block Time to Individual Surgeons with Low Caseloads


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Anesthesiology , Vol. 98, page(s): 1243-9

May, 2003

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INTRODUCTION: Many surgical suites allocate operating room (OR) block time to individual surgeons. If block time is allocated to services/groups and yet the same surgeon invariably operates on the same weekday, for all practical purposes block time is being allocated to individual surgeons. Organizational conflict occurs when a surgeon with a relatively low OR utilization has his or her allocated block time reduced. The authors studied potential limitations affecting whether a facility can accurately estimate the average block time utilizations of individual surgeons performing low volumes of cases. METHODS: Discrete-event computer simulation. RESULTS: Neither 3 months nor 1 yr of historical data were enough to be able to identify surgeons who had persistently low average OR utilizations. For example, with 3 months of data, the widths of the 95% CIs for average OR utilization exceeded 10% for surgeons who had average raw utilizations of 83% or less. If during a 3-month period a surgeon's measured adjusted utilization is 65%, there is a 95% chance that the surgeon's average adjusted utilization is as low as 38% or as high as 83%. If two surgeons have measured adjusted utilizations of 65% and 80%, respectively, there is a 16% chance that they have the same average adjusted utilization. Average OR utilization can be estimated more precisely for surgeons performing more cases each week. CONCLUSIONS: Average OR utilization probably cannot be estimated precisely for low-volume surgeons based on 3 months or 1 yr of historical OR utilization data. The authors recommend that at surgical suites trying to allocate OR time to individual low-volume surgeons, OR allocations be based on criteria other than only OR utilization (e.g., based on OR efficiency).


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