Operating Room Management.By Ronald A. Gabel, John C. Kulli, B. Steven Lee, Deborah G. Spratt, Denham S. Ward. Boston, Butterworth Heinmann, 1999. Pages: 224. Price: $65.00.

The authors have written an outstanding introductory textbook in operating room (OR) management. I wholeheartedly recommend it to hospital administrators with responsibility for the OR suite, OR material management specialists, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgeons who want an introduction to management concepts. The authors’ figures are clear. The text is lucid. The examples are good. The index is complete. The book is so well-edited and the chapters are written in such a complementary fashion that there were virtually no statements about which I disagreed.

This textbook is analogous to 200-page books for medical students and resident rotators from other specialties in anesthesiology. After reading such a textbook in 10 h or so, the reader has a good feel for the issues in the specialty. For example, for hospital administrators, the book explains “that true life-or-death emergencies are often related to uncontrolled bleeding or nearly complete airway obstruction.” For physicians and nurses, the book defines terms such as “incremental cost” and “debt service coverage ratio.” The book contains no references. At the end of each chapter, there are some recommended readings, but no scientific articles from the medical or management sciences literature.

This book is very easy to read because it describes principles, not details. For example, the chapter about material management explains the importance of maintaining a low inventory to decrease costs while not “allowing the absence of critical items at the time of surgery.” Words are used—there is no calculus (economic order quantity theory) or probability theory (safety stock concepts). Consequently, the book does not tell the OR manager how to achieve goals, only what goals to achieve. As another example, the book explains that “the OR information system should be used to schedule all persons who work in the OR suite… schedules … should reflect historical utilization patterns of the OR suite.” Again, in that linear programming algorithms are not discussed, the OR manager is told what to do but not how to do it. As long as the reader does not naively begin to think that by combining practical experience with having read this book they actually know how to manage the OR, he or she is set.

In summary, this book is absolutely terrific as an introductory textbook. If you are an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist who cares about OR suite finances but does not need the mathematical equations to actually make management or staffing decisions, I am confident that you will find purchasing this book to have been a first-rate decision. I congratulate the authors for having written such a superb textbook.