Editor's Choice| Volume 48, ISSUE 3, P217-225, March 2023

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Optimizing the Use of Operating Rooms by Transitioning Common Hand Surgeries Into the Office Setting

Published:January 17, 2023DOI:


      The purpose of this study was to examine the true monetary implications, at the health system level, of moving simple hand procedures, performed with wide-awake local anesthesia no tourniquet surgery, from the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) to office setting.


      We analyzed the costs, revenues, case times, and patient demographics for 2 cohorts of patients who underwent hand and non-hand surgical procedures over a 2-year period. We calculated the mean margin per minute for the top 5 procedures in non-hand orthopedic surgery subgroups, complex plastics hand, and non-hand plastic surgery. We then calculated the following: (1) hours operating room or ASC time gained by moving hand procedures to the office, (2) additional subgroup patients theoretically treated by using the ASC hours gained, and (3) net margin (in dollars) because of additional procedures.


      Six board-certified hand surgeons performed 623 simple ASC and 808 in-office procedures, consisting of 795 carpal tunnel releases, 84 first dorsal compartment releases, and 446 trigger finger releases. The net margin per minute for simple ASC and in-office hand procedures was $25.01/min and $5.63/min, respectively. In the office setting, hand surgery freed up 821 hours of ASC time, which could be theoretically used to treat over 300 additional patients awaiting outpatient orthopedic hand or plastic surgery. Depending on the subspecialty and type of substituted cases, the theoretical net margin varied from −$150,413 to $3.9 million.


      Transitioning simple hand operations out of ASCs realized a mean cost savings of 82% per case ($1,137 vs $206) and effectively opened 821 additional hours of operating room time over a 2-year period.

      Clinical relevance

      Transitioning simple hand operations out of the operating room setting and into the office setting reduces the cost of hand surgical care, improves operating room access for alternate procedures or patients, and validates the sustainability of safe and effective wide-awake local anesthesia no tourniquet surgery from a hospital system’s financial standpoint.

      Key words

      JHS Podcast

      March 1, 2023

      JHS Podcast Episode 84

      Dr. Graham interviews Dr. Brian Starr about his paper “Optimizing the Use of Operating Rooms by Transitioning Common Hand Surgeries Into the Office Setting”, which is the lead article for the March 2023 issue of The Journal of Hand Surgery.

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      March 1, 2023

      Perspectives - March 2023

      Dr. Chris Grandizio provides his perspective on the article "Optimizing the Use of Operating Rooms by Transitioning Common Hand Surgeries Into the Office Setting" by Starr et al, which appears in the March 2023 of The Journal of Hand Surgery.

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