HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Communication Found Lacking in OR

The Times published an interesting piece this week about an article that recently appeared in the Annals of Surgery and the Journal of The American College of Surgeons. Here's the gist of it:

The researchers surveyed more than 2,100 surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses about operating room communications. Their views — and the divergence among them — may shed light on how some surgical mistakes happen.

When the participants were asked to "describe the quality of communication and collaboration you have experienced" with other members of operating teams, surgeons were given the lowest rating for teamwork. Their worst assessment was from nurses, the group that got the highest rating. . . .

Many operating room mistakes, like sponges left in patients or the wrong body part being operated on, could be avoided through better communication, the researchers said. But this can mean getting over barriers of class, race, gender and even general outlook.

Afterward, the researchers spoke with participants and found that "nurses often describe good collaboration as having their input respected, and physicians often describe good collaboration as having nurses who anticipate their needs and follow instructions."

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