5 surprising ways to decrease risk in your operating rooms
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Operating room safety is a major, ongoing priority for your medical facility — and you no doubt practice scrupulous technique when it comes to monitoring procedures and equipment.
Research shows, though, that employing unexpected personnel strategies can also be a highly effective way to cut risks and improve surgical outcomes in both the long and short term. Try these science-driven tips to improve your OR environments:
Schedule two surgeons for spine surgeries.
A study from the Group Health Research Institute found that this simple double-staffing technique can reduce major complications.
What’s more: two doctors can split tasks to reduce fatigue and mistakes and check each other’s work. Patients may also feel doubly reassured from a psychological standpoint when they know two doctors are there to facilitate an easy and safe procedure.
Pay attention to posture.
University of Buffalo researchers report that when surgeons stand in awkward positions for long periods of time, it can lead to shoulder, neck and back pain, impairing their ability to do their next job.
Implement mandatory seminars that teach surgeons the importance of changing positions periodically as they work and offer stretching/yoga/posture instruction programs they can use to feel more comfortable. Also, encourage your OR teams to helpfully spot each other, remind each other to change positions, and take short breaks whenever possible during surgery. This can go a long way to reduce strain as well.
Take the emotional strain out of surgical training.
An intriguing study from the University of Houston found that when medical students are taught early to think of surgery as a "hobby," it removes the stress that leads to the fight-or-flight response as they train. From this, they learn skills such as microsurgical cutting much more efficiently.
This is not to say you should encourage your teachers to treat surgery as a frivolous skill in any way — what can work is to simply move training to a relaxed setting, like a classroom, as opposed to an actual OR-simulated environment.
Letting medical students know that mastering their general studies first and effectively will make surgical training less scary is a very helpful strategy.
Pick a positive playlist.
Encourage a good mood in your ORs by piping in amusing and relevant music. A study from U.K. researchers found that great songs to accomplish this with are "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, "Smooth Operator" by Sade, and "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd.
Positive personnel do their best work in high-pressure situations. A great additional option, of course, is to keep your surgical teams happy by allowing them to take turns bringing in their own playlists, encouraging them to choose uplifting music for everyone to listen to together.
Check in with your staff.
Ask your OR teams on a regular basis what they need to do their best work…then provide it! Keep up a running dialogue to meet that need, and you'll always be on top of any problems or concerns that can contribute to increased risk.
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