Inderscience Publishers

Implementing lean in surgery - lessons and implications


The principles of lean production originating from the Toyota production system has spread from manufacturing to healthcare. Needless to say, this raises concern whether such principles are actually applicable where the product are humans in need of medical care and what are the consequences for the medical staff. The literature on lean does not suggest that lean should not be applicable in healthcare. Still this paper begins by discussing if the principles of lean from a theoretical perspective can be expected to work in healthcare. It is found that that it will be useful in certain types of settings but it is not a universal tool that may be applied to all aspects of healthcare. A case of lean in a surgical ward is presented and it is observed that patients have been split in to two flows, which can be described as a lean and a normal flow.

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