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Mayo Study Finds That Team Preop Briefing Improves Communication, Reduces Errors
Date:5/26/2009

ROCHESTER, Minn., May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A short, preoperative team briefing prior to cardiac surgery - where each person on the team speaks - improves communication and reduces errors and costs, according to a pilot study conducted at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo researchers believe this is the first such study to use real-time observations to measure the effect of preoperative briefings on specific disruptions to surgery. Disruptions were categorized as patient-related issues, equipment or resource issues, procedural knowledge issues and miscommunication events. Results from the Mayo Clinic pilot are published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

"The goal of the briefings was to get everyone used to talking when there wasn't a problem, so they would be more likely to speak up when problems occur," says Thoralf Sundt, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeon who volunteered his surgery team for the study. "We know that miscommunication is a major cause of sentinel events, an unexpected death or serious injury."

Fifty-six surgical staff members filled out questionnaires and participated in focus groups to develop the format for the briefings. Among the participants were surgical assistants and technicians, registered nurses, nurse anesthetists, and perfusionists, who operate the heart-lung machine during most cardiac surgeries.

The briefings were conducted in the operating room immediately prior to the first surgical procedure of the day, before the patient arrived in the room. Each team member discussed his or her role in the procedure and any concerns specific to the patient. The briefings lasted from one to eight minutes.

"The briefing was not a checklist review," says Dr. Sundt. Checklists are most helpful in preventing predictable errors, such as confirming if and when medications are administered prior to surgery. No checklist
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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