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

can cover the unexpected scenarios that might occur in surgery.

"Because of the complexity of what we do, errors do happen," says Dr. Sundt. "Each team member needs to feel comfortable enough to identify errors. Then we catch them and correct them."

Pre-procedure briefings are not common in operating rooms, but they are standard in other high-risk industries such as aviation and in the military, according to Douglas Wiegmann, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the Mayo study.

"This approach reflects a change in culture in the surgical field - that everyone has a unique contribution to the outcome and care of the patient," says Dr. Wiegmann, who has since moved to the University of Wisconsin as an associate professor of human factors engineering.

While staff are expected to speak up during surgery, they don't or don't always, according to Dr. Wiegmann. Other research has shown that information conveyed in the operating room is often shared in a tense, ad hoc manner that is not conducive to comfortable communication. Previous Mayo Clinic research found that only 32 percent of nonphysician caregivers in cardiovascular surgery thought that surgeon communication was effective. In the same study, 59 percent of nonphysician respondents thought that surgeon attitudes and personalities negatively impacted teamwork.

To measure the briefings' effectiveness, a trained observer monitored six surgeries where briefings were conducted and 10 surgeries where no briefing occurred. The observer was a medical student who was familiar with cardiac surgery and trained to record errors and flow disruptions.

When the briefings were conducted:

  • Miscommunication events were reduced by 53 percent. None of the miscommunication events observed during the study resulted in adverse events. Examples include the surgeon asking for a medication to be give
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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