Labor costs incurred by anesthesiology groups because of operating rooms not being allocated and cases not being scheduled to maximize operating room efficiency

Amr E. Abouleish, Franklin Dexter, Richard H. Epstein, David A. Lubarsky, Charles W. Whitten, Donald S. Prough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


Determination of operating room (OR) block allocation and case scheduling is often not based on maximizing OR efficiency, but rather on tradition and surgeon convenience. As a result, anesthesiology groups often incur additional labor costs. When negotiating financial support, heads of anesthesiology departments are often challenged to justify the subsidy necessary to offset these additional labor costs. In this study, we describe a method for calculating a statistically sound estimate of the excess labor costs incurred by an anesthesiology group because of inefficient OR allocation and case scheduling. OR information system and anesthesia staffing data for 1 yr were obtained from two university hospitals. Optimal OR allocation for each surgical service was determined by maximizing the efficiency of use of the OR staff. Hourly costs were converted to dollar amounts by using the nationwide median compensation for academic and private-practice anesthesia providers. Differences between actual costs and the optimal OR allocation were determined. For Hospital A, estimated annual excess labor costs were $1.6 million (95% confidence interval, $1.5-$1.7 million) and $2.0 million ($1.89-$2.05 million) when academic and private-practice compensation, respectively, was calculated. For Hospital B, excess labor costs were $1.0 million ($1.08-$1.17 million) and $1.4 million ($1.32-1.43 million) for academic and private-practice compensation, respectively. This study demonstrates a methodology for an anesthesiology group to estimate its excess labor costs. The group can then use these estimates when negotiating for subsidies with its hospital, medical school, or multispecialty medical group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1113
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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