Teamwork in the Cardiac Operating Room Increases Patient Safety

AUGUST 15, 2013
Jackie Syrop
Cardiac surgery teams should be trained to improve communication and teamwork, and hospitals should establish robust quality assurance systems to identify and correct safety hazards, according to a new scientific statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA).
The authors of the statement said the critical elements of teamwork can be summarized by the six “C’s”:
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Coordination
  • Cognition
  • Conflict resolution
  • Coaching
Published in the association’s journal, Circulation, the statement reviewed evidence-based research concerning communication within and among teams, the physical workspace, and the organizational culture of the cardiac operating room (OR).
The recommendations — which were among those introduced by the AHA to help reduce preventable mistakes in the cardiac OR — included the use of checklists prior to each surgery and followed by postoperative briefings; the development of institutional policies to define disruptive behaviors by medical professionals; and transparent, formalized procedures for addressing unacceptable behaviors.
The establishment of an institutional culture of safety through the implementation of a robust quality improvement system that incorporates input from all team members will also help continuously identify and correct safety hazards, the AHA said in the statement. 

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