Using operations research methodologies to improve operating theatre scheduling

Stuart, Kari Louise (2010) Using operations research methodologies to improve operating theatre scheduling. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


A hospital consists of a number of wards, units and departments that provide a variety of medical services and interact on a day-to-day basis. Nearly every department within a hospital schedules patients for the operating theatre (OT) and most wards receive patients from the OT following post-operative recovery. Because of the interrelationships between units, disruptions and cancellations within the OT can have a flow-on effect to the rest of the hospital. This often results in dissatisfied patients, nurses and doctors, escalating waiting lists, inefficient resource usage and undesirable waiting times. The objective of this study is to use Operational Research methodologies to enhance the performance of the operating theatre by improving elective patient planning using robust scheduling and improving the overall responsiveness to emergency patients by solving the disruption management and rescheduling problem. OT scheduling considers two types of patients: elective and emergency. Elective patients are selected from a waiting list and scheduled in advance based on resource availability and a set of objectives. This type of scheduling is referred to as ‘offline scheduling’. Disruptions to this schedule can occur for various reasons including variations in length of treatment, equipment restrictions or breakdown, unforeseen delays and the arrival of emergency patients, which may compete for resources. Emergency patients consist of acute patients requiring surgical intervention or in-patients whose conditions have deteriorated. These may or may not be urgent and are triaged accordingly. Most hospitals reserve theatres for emergency cases, but when these or other resources are unavailable, disruptions to the elective schedule result, such as delays in surgery start time, elective surgery cancellations or transfers to another institution. Scheduling of emergency patients and the handling of schedule disruptions is an ‘online’ process typically handled by OT staff. This means that decisions are made ‘on the spot’ in a ‘real-time’ environment. There are three key stages to this study: (1) Analyse the performance of the operating theatre department using simulation. Simulation is used as a decision support tool and involves changing system parameters and elective scheduling policies and observing the effect on the system’s performance measures; (2) Improve viability of elective schedules making offline schedules more robust to differences between expected treatment times and actual treatment times, using robust scheduling techniques. This will improve the access to care and the responsiveness to emergency patients; (3) Address the disruption management and rescheduling problem (which incorporates emergency arrivals) using innovative robust reactive scheduling techniques. The robust schedule will form the baseline schedule for the online robust reactive scheduling model.

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ID Code: 48697
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Kozan, Erhan & Anh, Vo
Additional Information: Thesis embargoed until 2nd February 2013.
Keywords: operating theatre scheduling, hospitals
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Feb 2012 06:26
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015 03:25

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