February 1, 2022

Reducing OR time for elective procedures helps address staffing shortages

Editor's Note

Reducing OR time availability at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh, by 15% helped address a 30% staffing shortage caused by COVID-19, according to a study presented January 29 at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ ADVANCE 2022, the Anesthesiology Business Event in Dallas.

A five-phase approach was used, which included:

  • Phase I (May 2021): Restricted OR availability for less time-sensitive procedures and moved some to other hospitals and surgery centers in the UPMC system. Also decreased OR availability for surgeons with highly elective cases and moved some to the bedside in ICU.
  • Phase II (July 2021): Formed a multidisciplinary committee that met daily to ensure staffing matched the surgical schedule for 2 weeks out. Transplant and cancer procedures were prioritized.
  • Phase III (October 2021): Reduced the availability of OR time for when procedures could be scheduled by 15% and extended the deadline for scheduling from 3 days to 5 days before surgery.
  • Phase IV (November 2021): Instituted additional reductions in OR scheduling to meet staff shortages and reduced available OR time for all services by an additional 10%. Surgeons with two ORs had their time reduced, except for those performing trauma procedures.
  • Phase V (January 2022): Implemented a system-wide review of surgical case prioritization and opened up more ORs for scheduling procedures. This allowed more flexibility for performing procedures depending on staff availability.

During the five phases, available ORs were decreased from 36 to 31 (15%), which was adequate for addressing the 30% reduction in staff, the authors say.

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