Despite OR practice improvements, approximately 50% of second or subsequent surgical procedures will not start on time because of procedure duration overruns caused by preceding procedures. Operating room scheduling that uses reliable historical data about specific surgeon and procedure combinations and computerized scheduling systems can minimize overruns. Statistical variability in procedure durations, however, implies that one-half of the procedures will run longer than the calculated mean, resulting in wait times for time-scheduled surgeons and their patients. Managers must understand the tradeoffs between the competing goals of surgical throughput and decreasing patient wait times in their efforts to optimize the OR schedule.
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