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Objectives: While several factors have been shown to influence operating room (OR) turnaround times, few comparisons of planned and actual OR turnaround times have been performed. This study aimed to compare planned and actual OR turnaround times at a large rural hospital in Northern Germany. Methods: This
retrospective study examined the OR turnaround data of 875 elective surgery cases scheduled at the Marienhospital, Vechta, Germany, between July and October 2014. The frequency distributions of planned and actual OR turnaround times were compared and correlations between turnaround times and various factors were established, including the time of day of the procedure, patient age and the planned duration of the surgery. Results: There was a significant difference between mean planned and actual OR turnaround times (0.32 versus 0.64 hours; P <0.001). In addition, significant correlations were noted between actual OR turnaround times and the time of day of the surgery, patient age, actual duration of the procedure and staffing changes affecting the surgeon or the medical specialty of the surgery (P <0.001 each). The quotient of actual/planned OR turnaround times ranged from 1.733–3.000. Conclusion: Significant discrepancies between planned and actual OR turnaround times were noted during the study period. Such findings may be potentially used in future studies to establish a tool to improve OR planning, measure OR management performance and enable benchmarking.