Minimizing patients total clinical condition deterioration in operating theatre departments

Omolbanin Mashkani, Andreas T. Ernst, Dhananjay Thiruvady, Hanyu Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The operating theatre is the most crucial and costly department in a hospital due to its expensive resources and high patient admission rate. Efficiently allocating operating theatre resources to patients provides hospital management with better utilization and patient flow. In this paper, we tackle both tactical and operational planning over short-term to medium-term horizons. The main goal is to determine an allocation of blocks of time on each day to surgical specialties while also assigning each patient a day and an operating room for surgery. To create a balance between improving patients welfare and satisfying the expectations of hospital administrators, we propose six novel deterioration rates to evaluate patients total clinical condition deterioration. Each deterioration rate is defined as a function of the clinical priorities of patients, their waiting times, and their due dates. To optimize the objective functions, we present mixed integer programming (MIP) models and two dynamic programming based heuristics. Computational experiments have been conducted on a novel well-designed and carefully chosen benchmark dataset, which simulates realistic-sized instances. The results demonstrate the capability of the MIP models in finding excellent solutions (maximum average gap of 4.71% across all instances and objective functions), though, requiring large run-times. The heuristic algorithms provide a time-efficient alternative, where high quality solutions can be found in under a minute. We also analyse each objective function’s ability in generating high quality solutions from different perspectives such as patients waiting times, the number of scheduled patients, and operating rooms utilization rates. We provide managerial insights to the decision makers in cases where their intention is to meet KPIs and/or maintaining trade-offs between patients and administrators expectations, more fair assignments, or ensuring that the most urgent patients are taken care of first.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-857
Number of pages37
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Clinical condition deterioration
  • Master surgical schedule
  • Operating theatre
  • Surgical case assignment

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