Operating theatre time, where does it all go?

In this single centre study, the authors assess the accuracy of surgeons and anesthetists in predicting the time it will take them to complete an operation or procedure and therefore explain some of the difficulties encountered in operating theatre scheduling. The study was set in operating theatres at a level 1 trauma centre serving a population of about 370 000. Participants were 92 operating theatre staff including surgical consultants, surgical registrars, anesthetic consultants, and anesthetic registrars. Participants were asked how long they thought their procedure would take, and this was compared with actual time data recorded at the end of the case. General surgeons underestimated the time required for the procedure by 31 minutes, meaning that procedures took, on average, 28.7% longer than predicted. Plastic surgeons underestimated by 5 minutes, with procedures taking an average of 4.5% longer than predicted. Orthopedic surgeons overestimated by 1 minute, with procedures taking an average of 1.1% less time than predicted. Anesthetists underestimated by 35 minutes, meaning that, on average, procedures took 167.5% longer than they predicted. The authors conclude that the inability of clinicians to predict the necessary time for a procedure is a significant cause of delay in the operating theatre. This study suggests that anesthetists are the most inaccurate and highlights the potential differences between specialties in what is considered part of the