I realized how much this question bothers me the other night while on call.
I can usually estimate how long it is going to take me to do most things. It is trying to estimate how long the surgeon is going to be that gets on my nerves. Like as if I can actually control that. I would love to be able to control surgical times, I fantasize about implanted chips or scrotal clamps that give shocks or tighen up if the surgeon is working slowly.
The other night it was the Case Room calling just after surgical incision (and just after I had told the second call to go home) to find out how long we would be as they had a C-Section they "needed" to do. They were of course very vague about how urgently they "needed" to do the C-Section. For all I knew and for all they were prepared to tell me it could have been a prolapsed cord or just someone who wanted their child born that day for astrological reasons (don't laugh, we have done at least one C/S for those reasons).
It is not just the Case Room. Other surgeons frequently phone into the room asking to speak to me to find out how long their colleague is going to be.
I could ask the surgeon. If it is shortly after incision, they will answer that they don't know until they actually see what is involved. Or they will give me an estimated time which I will then have to decide whether to multiply by 2 or 3 times based on their past performance. Some surgeons are a little sociopathic and actually slow down or let the resident do the case when they know, they are going to get bumped.
More often as the evening witching hour approaches it is just another surgeon trying to decide whether the case which was urgent a few hours ago can now wait until tomorrow.
I should know better; I was a little rude to our Case Room. I told them I could no more predict how long the surgeon would take, then they could predict who would need a labour epidural and when.