Operating Room Supply Cost and Value of Care after Implementing a Sustainable Quality Intervention

J Am Coll Surg. 2024 Apr 1;238(4):404-413. doi: 10.1097/XCS.0000000000000972. Epub 2024 Mar 15.


Background: Variability in operating room supply cost is a modifiable cause of suboptimal resource use and low value of care (outcomes vs cost). This study describes implementation of a quality improvement intervention to decrease operating room supply costs.

Study design: An automated electronic health record data pipeline harmonized operating room supply cost data with patient and case characteristics and outcomes. For inpatient procedures, predicted mortality and length of stay were used to calculate observed-to-expected ratios and value of care using validated equations. For commonly performed (1 or more per week) procedures, the pipeline generated figures illustrating individual surgeon performance vs peers, costs for each surgeon performing each case type, and control charts identifying out-of-control cases and surgeons with more than 90th percentile costs, which were shared with surgeons and division chiefs alongside guidance for modifying case-specific supply instructions to operating room nurses and technicians.

Results: Preintervention control (1,064 cases for 7 months) and postintervention (307 cases for 2 months) cohorts had similar baseline characteristics across all 16 commonly performed procedures. Median costs per case were lower in the intervention cohort ($811 [$525 to $1,367] vs controls: $1,080 [$603 to $1,574], p < 0.001), as was the incidence of out-of-control cases (19 (6.2%) vs 110 (10.3%), p = 0.03). Duration of surgery, length of stay, discharge disposition, and 30-day mortality and readmission rates were similar between cohorts. Value of care was higher in the intervention cohort (1.1 [0.1 to 1.5] vs 1.0 [0.2 to 1.4], p = 0.04). Pipeline runtime was 16:07.

Conclusions: An automated, sustainable quality improvement intervention was associated with decreased operating room supply costs and increased value of care.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Surgeons*