According to an investigation by the Montreal Economic Institute - Operating rooms are used at less than 50% of capacity



    MONTREAL, Dec. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - An investigation conducted by the
Montreal Economic Institute involving 23 hospitals shows that open operating
rooms were in use only 46% of the time during day shifts on weekdays in
2005-2006. Use of operating rooms was even lower on evening shifts, at just
9%, and on weekends, at between 6% and 8%. Part of Quebec's most modern and
most substantial infrastructure is thus being used at far below capacity.
    In an Economic Note published by the Montreal Economic Institute, the
authors state that "despite significant growth in government financing for the
health and social services network, the problem of waiting lists continues,
especially for surgery, and some patients do not receive treatment within a
reasonable time frame. The supply of health services must be increased by
making better use of existing resources."
    This under-use represents a major cost in the form of idle facilities.
The typical cost of equipping an operating room ranges from $450,000 for a
general surgery room to $1,150,000 for a partially automated endoscopic
surgery room.

    
    Factors that may explain this underuse

    -   Most hospitals keep an operating room free at all times to deal with
        emergency surgeries.
    -   The department of health and social services imposes a financial and
        regulatory framework on hospitals and regional agencies that may lead
        them to close operating rooms or to use them less intensively.
    -   Staff shortages in operating blocks and related services mean fewer
        operations can be performed.
    -   A lack of flexibility in staff management may reduce the availability
        of human resources.
    

    Methodology of the investigation

    The Montreal Economic Institute sent forms to 36 hospitals in Quebec to
gather the most recent data, covering the 2005-2006 period. Of the
32 hospitals that replied, 23 did so before the deadline and provided full
data. This produced a final sample covering 264 operating rooms, representing
49% of operating rooms in all public hospitals.
    The Economic Note, titled An overview of operating room use in Quebec
hospitals, was prepared by health economist Julie Frappier and by Mathieu
Laberge, an economist at the Institute. The investigation among the various
hospitals was conducted by Ms. Frappier, the project leader.
    The Note is available at www.iedm.org

    The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
non-profit body that takes part in public policy debate in Quebec and across
Canada, offering wealth creation solutions on matters of taxation, regulation,
and reform of health and education systems. Its publications since 2000 have
included the Report Card on Quebec's Secondary Schools. In 2004 it won a
Templeton Freedom Award for Institute Excellence for the quality of its
management and public relations.




For further information:

For further information: André Valiquette, Director of Communications,
Montreal Economic Institute, (514) 273-0969 ext. 2225, Cell: (514) 574-0969,
avaliquette@iedm.org


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