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Surgical capacity in hospitals can be utilised more efficiently - Doc. No. 3:4 (2004-2005)

There are large differences between Norwegian hospitals with regard to the productivity of surgical operations. This also applies to comparable hospitals. In order to make better use of their surgical capacity the hospitals must consider whether their use of key personnel involved in operations is efficient, and whether the organisation is adequate.
Published 1/20/2005 12:00 PM

The Office of the Auditor General’s review of the utilisation of surgical capacity in hospitals, Document no.3:4 (2004-2005) was submitted to the Storting on 20 January 2005.

The Office of the Auditor General has investigated the use of personnel involved in surgical operations in 14 hospitals as well as the utilisation of operating theatre capacity in 17 hospitals. The review shows that the number of days when the operating theatres have idle capacity varies strongly between the hospitals. On average, operating theatres were idle on 30 per cent of the available working days. In addition, operations rarely started before 9 am, and were usually finished before 3 pm. This indicates that operating theatre capacity in general in no way represents an obstacle to the surgical activities in the hospitals investigated.

Health personnel reported that the lack of theatre nurses constitutes the greatest obstacle to improved utilisation of surgical capacity. At the same time a majority of theatre nurses stated that they are responsible for tasks they feel should be performed by other personnel groups. In the Office of the Auditor General’s opinion this raises grounds for questioning whether the hospitals manage the resources represented by their theatre nurses in a sufficiently efficient manner.

Surgeons spend 80 per cent of their ordinary working week on tasks connected to the treatment of patients. As an average figure this is a proportionately large share. However, there are significant variations between comparable hospitals in the time spent by surgeons on patient-related tasks. In some hospitals there should therefore be capacity for a better utilisation of surgeons’ working hours.

The Ministry of Health and Care Services has stated that the review will be included as a documentary basis for the further development of the specialist health services and the improvement of service quality.

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