Hospital costs 39% higher with OR delays

Delays in the operating room (OR) are not simply inconveniences for staff; they hurt hospitals' bottom line. Patients who had longer gap times (from the time of case booking to surgery start time) resulted in higher costs in surgery, laboratory, and nurse resources, according to a new study published in the Surgery journal.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh looked at appendectomy patients and found that the average gap time was 3 hours and 44 minutes (224 minutes). They compared the costs associated with delays under and over two hours. The average costs for patients who had gap times of less than 2 hours was $6,862, and the cost for more than 2 hours was $9,558. That's a 39 percent difference, according to an article in American College of Emergency Physicians News.

Costs

< 2 hrs

> 2 hrs

Surgery

$3,657

$4,330

Lab

$294

$469

Nursing

$1,138

$1,495

Average

$6,862

$9,558


Researchers concluded that the delays usually stemmed from peak OR times and not necessarily poor care. Gap times didn't significantly affect length of stay or patient outcomes, but the study still highlights the potential weight of healthcare costs in OR delays and inefficiencies.

"Such data might facilitate a true cost-benefit analysis that ultimately would drive hospital management toward optimal efficiency rather than optimal capacity," the researchers concluded.

For more information:
- read the ACEP News article
- check out the study abstract

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