Robust surgery loading

Erwin Hans, Gerhard Wullink, Mark van Houdenhoven, Geert Kazemier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


We consider the robust surgery loading problem for a hospital’s operating theatre department, which concerns assigning surgeries and sufficient planned slack to operating room days. The objective is to maximize capacity utilization and minimize the risk of overtime, and thus cancelled patients. This research was performed in collaboration with the Erasmus MC, a large academic hospital in the Netherlands, which has also provided historical data for the experiments. We propose various constructive heuristics and local search methods that use statistical information on surgery durations to exploit the portfolio effect, and thereby to minimize the required slack. We demonstrate that our approach frees a lot of operating room capacity, which may be used to perform additional surgeries. Furthermore, we show that by combining advanced optimization techniques with extensive historical statistical records on surgery durations can significantly improve the operating room department utilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1050
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean journal of operational research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Operating theatre planning
  • Heuristics
  • Scheduling
  • OR in Health Services


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