Descriptive study of case scheduling and cancellations within 1 week of the day of surgery

Franklin Dexter, Pengyi Shi, Richard H. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: We performed a descriptive study of operating room (OR) case scheduling within 1 week of the day of surgery. METHODS:: The data used were from the case scheduling and transaction audit tables of a hospital's anesthesia and OR information management systems. Each change to a scheduled case in the OR information system was captured in an audit table, including the date and time when the change was made. The timestamps allowed reconstruction of the elective OR schedule for each date of surgery at preceding dates (e.g., 2 workdays ahead). The sample size was n = 17 consecutive 4-week periods. The allocated OR time, for each combination of service and day of the week, was the number of hours that minimized the inefficiency of use of OR time, a weighted combination of the hours of underutilized OR time and the more expensive hours of overutilized OR time. Data are reported as mean ±SE. RESULTS:: (1) The percentage of OR date combinations with at least 1 add-on case was 24.1% ± 0.3%. The most recent addition of a case to an OR occurred 1 working day before surgery for 22.3% ± 0.4% of OR date combinations. At least half (51.5% ± 0.5%) of ORs had its last case scheduled or changed within 2 working days of surgery. In addition, when allocated OR time was filled and the service scheduled additional case(s), the median time ahead when each such case was scheduled was 2.2 ± 0.2 workdays. Thus, managers can productively focus on the day of surgery starting 2 working days before surgery. (2) Once allocated time was full, the ratio of the net additional cases scheduled to the total number performed was 1.2% ± 0.6%. However, 11.1% ± 1.7% of the total were additional cases. Thus, schedulers should rely on the allocated time to be predictive of the actual (net) workload that will occur in the future, on the day of surgery. (3) For service and day combinations for which 2 working days ahead the scheduled hours exceeded the allocated hours, there was no significant net increase in minutes of cases scheduled (P = 0.79), unlike when the scheduled hours were less than allocated (P < 0.0001). Thus, additional hours of cases scheduled within the same number of workdays are heterogeneous both within and among services based on the prior hours of cases scheduled. CONCLUSIONS:: Planning anesthesia assignments, ORs to target, etc., can be done productively starting 2 working days ahead of surgery. There are so many changes to the OR schedule those last 2 workdays that anesthesia groups should be engaged with the scheduling office during that period. The primary predictor of additional net hours of cases to be scheduled is the difference between the allocated (i.e., forecasted) OR time and the hours scheduled so far.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1188-1195
Number of pages8
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Descriptive study of case scheduling and cancellations within 1 week of the day of surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this