3 ways to create expert operating room teams

While some consider correlating healthcare and aviation to comparing apples to oranges, one airline captain and patient safety expert believes lessons from the air can help turn surgical team members into an expert operating room team.

Steve Harden suggests healthcare teams take a lesson from flight crews and do the following to ensure high-quality care:

1. Make introductions, eye contact

The healthcare team must learn each other's names. Team members who know each other will communicate better, Harden noted. To facilitate introductions, hospitals can post the names of involved staff on a white board in the OR during a procedure. Harden also recommends making eye contact with fellow medical team members to use nonverbal communication to portray their message.

2. Outline the task ahead

Just as crews go over the trip before the flight, the healthcare team should generally discuss the procedure and then cover critical decision points or actions to take in possible emergencies.

Hospital OR teams also should conduct briefings before every cardiac surgery as well as postoperative debriefings, according to an August scientific statement by the American Heart Association (AHA).

3. Invite team communication

For effective teamwork, critical information must openly flow among members, according to Harden. So expert team leaders should ask two or three open-ended questions and acknowledge every communication with either a verbal or nonverbal response to get the best information to make the best patient care decisions.

Hospitals need to train OR staff on how to communicate with one another, as the AHA noted communication skills are the worst aspect of teamwork behavior in the cardiac operating room, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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