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What Is Operating Room Management?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated May 17, 2024
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Operating room management refers to the oversight necessary to efficiently run an operating room. An operating room can be thought of as a business, and there are many people performing various functions, which together allow surgery to be possible. Like any business, each person needs to successfully perform his or her duties, and there are different levels of associated authority. Those in charge of operating room management are usually the doctors and surgeons.

There is one significant problem in the analogy between an operating room and your everyday business. The difference is that, if a nine-to-five business has a major error, they simply lose revenue. If an operating room management error occurs, it could cost a person his or her life. It is obvious how critical it is that effective measures are in place to make an operating room run like clockwork.

A multitude of reasons could be behind patients' needs for surgery. These causes range from chronic disease to emergencies, even including those that voluntarily go under the knife for cosmetic purposes. There are many important people who need to be put into place for a successful surgery. These include the surgeon, an anesthesia team, and supportive staff like nurses or doctors who help with the procedure.

With all of these cooks in the kitchen, it is important that operating room management be effectively conducted. Usually, there is a head surgeon, and his or her word is paramount to others. This hierarchy allows for each individual in the room to know his or her role. Most people involved in surgery have accepted their roles as there is no room for conflicting opinions under such a stressful setting.

Surgery can last for hours, and part of effective operating room management is timing all of the procedures so that they flow together. An anesthesiologist, for example, needs to know how long to put a patient under for and manage the consciousness state accordingly. If the surgery takes too long or is completed in a shorter amount of time, the drugs that are sedating a patient may no longer be desired. Additionally, it could be dangerous for certain aspects of operating room management to be improperly timed.

Operating room management is an important skill needed for any surgery to be conducted. This skill is something that needs to be studied, practiced, and honed over years of experience by the medical professionals involved. If perfected, it can help change lives through much needed procedures. If botched, it could cost a patient his or her health. This art of balancing operating room tasks in a timely fashion is obviously of great importance to medical treatment.

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