Process Improvement in Stanford Hospital's Operating Room

By Elena Pernas-Giz, Kate Surman, Stefanos Zenios
2004 | Case No. OIT41
It was June 2004 and members of the Material Flow Committee (MFC) at Stanford Hospital and Clinics were faced with the challenge of implementing important process improvements in the operating room. Though notable progress had been made in the recent past, complaints from surgeons, nurses and technicians regarding the availability of surgical instrumentation had reached an all-time high. Finding a solution was urgent, but opinions varied widely regarding the best course of action. Some individuals believed that instrumentation sterilization and processing should be adopted as a core competency (and made central to employee training and compensation). Others felt the hospital should invest in additional instruments and information technology to improve efficiencies. A third faction believed that instrumentation issues resulted, in large part, from low morale and a lack of cross-functional camaraderie and teamwork within the operating room. While each of these issues was important, a decision had to be made to devote Stanford’s limited time and resources to the solution that would have the greatest, most immediate impact on its operating room effectiveness.
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