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BMJ Publishing Group, BMJ Open, 4(12), p. e054110, 2022

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054110



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Development of a decision analytical framework to prioritise operating room capacity: lessons learnt from an empirical example on delayed elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic in a hospital in the Netherlands

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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ObjectiveTo develop a prioritisation framework to support priority setting for elective surgeries after COVID-19 based on the impact on patient well-being and cost.DesignWe developed decision analytical models to estimate the consequences of delayed elective surgical procedures (eg, total hip replacement, bariatric surgery or septoplasty).SettingThe framework was applied to a large hospital in the Netherlands.Outcome measuresQuality measures impacts on quality of life and costs were taken into account and combined to calculate net monetary losses per week delay, which quantifies the total loss for society expressed in monetary terms. Net monetary losses were weighted by operating times.ResultsWe studied 13 common elective procedures from four specialties. Highest loss in quality of life due to delayed surgery was found for total hip replacement (utility loss of 0.27, ie, 99 days lost in perfect health); the lowest for arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (utility loss of 0.05, ie, 18 days lost in perfect health). Costs of surgical delay per patient were highest for bariatric surgery (€31/pp per week) and lowest for arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (−€2/pp per week). Weighted by operating room (OR) time bariatric surgery provides most value (€1.19/pp per OR minute) and arthroscopic partial meniscectomy provides the least value (€0.34/pp per OR minute). In a large hospital the net monetary loss due to prolonged waiting times was €700 840 after the first COVID-19 wave, an increase of 506% compared with the year before.ConclusionsThis surgical prioritisation framework can be tailored to specific centres and countries to support priority setting for delayed elective operations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, both in and between surgical disciplines. In the long-term, the framework can contribute to the efficient distribution of OR time and will therefore add to the discussion on appropriate use of healthcare budgets. The online framework can be accessed via: