Time is money in the OR. Here are a few ideas to keep your schedule moving along at a brisk pace.
- IN THE BAG. You can get pre-op bays and patients set up a lot faster if you're able to put your hands on all the linens you need at a moment's notice, instead of picking and pulling each item on the list every time you need it. During downtime before the day begins or after the schedule's been completed, fold bed sheets, blankets, gowns and hats into patient belonging bags. Stock a bunch in the cabinet when your laundry service delivers, and nurses will be able to easily grab one when readying for the next patient.
- DILATE FOR THE DRIVE. It can take longer to dilate patients for eye surgery than the case itself. Let patients start the process at home on the day of surgery. Set them up with the drops at their pre-surgical visit and ask them to self-administer before their escort drives them in. They'll arrive fully dilated.
- BEDSIDE CHECK-IN. Shave a few minutes off your admissions and improve your first-case on-time starts by registering your patients at bedside. As soon as they arrive at your center, give them their wristband and take them straight to pre-op instead of sitting them in the waiting room. Once they've changed into their gown, an admissions rep with a computer workstation on a mobile cart can visit to complete the process in the pre-op bay.
- VIP TREATMENT FOR BLOCKS. Another way to speed intake is by triaging the patients who'll be receiving regional anesthesia out of the waiting room. Highlight them on the day's schedule so your receptionist can alert pre-op staff as soon as they arrive. Then move them to the front of the line to give your anesthesia providers enough time to get their nerve blocks started as soon as possible.
- SHOW THE WAY. When there's more than one surgeon's schedule running at the same time, pre-op can get a bit chaotic in terms of identification and the order of events. Hanging laminated signs that indicate which patients belong to which physicians, and which ones are next for surgery, on IV poles in pre-op bays can help to save time and avoid confusion in the process.
- READY THE REFRESHMENTS. Don't wait until your surgery patients are in PACU to find out whether they want apple juice or ginger ale, saltines or graham crackers. Physicians are going to want to see them first, and that will delay nurses from asking for patients' preferences, which could bottleneck throughput. Instead, take patients' orders while you're admitting them in pre-op, and you'll have the nutrition for your whole slate of patients lined up and ready as soon as they're out of the OR.
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