Improving teamwork in operating room can boost patient safety

American Heart Association Scientific Statement

Statement Highlights

  • Cardiac surgery teams should be trained to improve communication and teamwork.
  • Institutions should establish robust quality assurance systems to identify and correct safety hazards.

EMBARGOED UNTIL 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET, Monday, August 5, 2013
DALLAS, August 5, 2013 — Improving communication and strengthening teamwork among cardiac surgery teams are among recommendations for reducing preventable mistakes in the cardiac operating room, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association.

The statement reviewed evidence-based research focused on communication within and between teams, the physical workspace and the organizational culture of the cardiac operating room and provides recommendations for improving patient safety. It is published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Statement highlights include:

  • using checklists and/or briefings before every cardiac surgery, followed by postoperative briefings;
  • developing institutional policies to define disruptive behaviors by medical professionals in all hospital settings, with transparent, formal procedures for addressing unacceptable behaviors;
  • establishing an institutional culture of safety by implementing a robust quality improvement system that encourages input from all team members, in order to continuously identify and correct safety hazards.

The authors note that the critical elements of teamwork can be summarized by the Six Cs: communication, cooperation, coordination, cognition, conflict resolution and coaching.

Statement co-authors are on the manuscript.

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For updates from Circulation, follow @CircAHA.

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