Evaluation of Variability in Operative Efficiency in Plastic Surgery Procedures

Alexis L. Boson, Evan Ross, Daniel Popp, Christian Tapking, Arianna Ramirez, Ludwik Branski, Linda G. Phillips, Steven E. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background As the cost of healthcare rises, it is imperative to assess value delivered to patients and impact on the economic viability of institutions. We aimed to characterize plastic surgery operative time management and identified areas for efficiency improvement. Methods Procedures from a US academic plastic surgery division from September 2017 to August 2018 were reviewed. Times were categorized into preparation (patient in room to incision), procedure (incision to closure), exit (closure to patient exiting room), and turnover (patient out of room to next patient in room). Median and interquartile ranges were calculated. Procedures were classified by relative value units (RVUs) for comparison of procedure complexities and resources. Components were plotted against RVUs; r2 values were calculated. Results We analyzed 522 cases; 69 were excluded for missing data, primary surgeon not a plastic surgeon, emergent cases, or burn procedures; a total of 453 cases were analyzed. Median and interquartile range (in minutes) for preparation was (34, 18 minutes; 23% of total), procedure (53, 75 minutes; 36% of total), exit (30, 27 minutes; 20% of total), and turnover (30, 26 minutes; 20% of total). Normalized to RVUs, preparation demonstrated the most variability (r2 = 0.19), followed by exit (r2 = 0.38), and procedure (r2 = 0.57). Average work RVUs per month was 678.1 ± 158.7. Average work RVUs per OR hour was 7.2. Conclusions The largest component with greatest variability was preparation for surgery in the OR. Improved efficiency by decreasing variability increases the value of healthcare delivered to patients and OR throughput.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E13-E19
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • efficiency
  • operating rooms (ORs)/organization and administration
  • operative time
  • organizational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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