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TOH Transforms Surgical Program to Improve Patients Care

February 28, 2013  Patient needing urgent surgery at The Ottawa Hospital are getting it faster than ever — the result of changes to the way the surgical program is organized. The changes are one example of how TOH is redesigning the way services are delivered to provide the highest quality of patient care for less cost.

Since January, when a new method of scheduling surgeries was introduced, wait times for urgent procedures have fallen dramatically. With very few exceptions, nine out of 10 patients requiring urgent surgery are now being sent to the operating room within 24 hours of admission. Previously, some patients waited up to 72 hours.

For some urgent surgeries, TOH is outperforming the wait-time targets set by the Ontario government. For example, patients with fractured hips, who previously waited up to two days for surgery, now get to the operating room within 24 hours, which is faster than the provincial standard of 48 hours. In any given week, TOH performs about 120 urgent surgeries, with hip fractures being one of the most common injuries requiring priority OR access.

The speedier route to surgery enables patients to recover more quickly. It also allows TOH to treat more patients without adding extra beds or operating rooms. In many cases, patients needing urgent surgery are being sent directly to the OR from the emergency department, eliminating the need for them to spend days in hospital before their surgery.

The drop in wait times is the result of a new way of scheduling surgeries at TOH. At many hospitals, urgent-surgery delays and bed-occupancy challenges are caused, not by the random distribution of injuries and illnesses, but by the way elective surgeries are managed and assigned.

The changes, introduced at TOH in January, involve setting aside more operating-room time specifically for urgent surgeries. They also involve spreading elective surgeries more evenly throughout the week, rather than clustering them midweek, when OR time is typically in highest demand. Smoothing out the OR schedule results in more predictable, more efficient and less costly staffing.

Both patients and surgical teams benefit from fewer cancelled surgeries and greater surgical volume with improved quality of care. The method is based on maintaining an even flow of patients coming in and out of hospital. A smoothly flowing hospital saves time and money. More important, it improves the quality of care provided to patients.

Media Contact:
Hazel Harding
Communications Advisor
The Ottawa Hospital
Tel.: 613-737-8460