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Pre-op Briefings Make for Safer, More Efficient Surgery

Mayo Clinic researchers tout the benefits of communicating before cutting.

Published: June 1, 2009

Clinical errors and medical supply waste are reduced when clinical teams huddle before cases to discuss potential disruptions to surgery, according to research conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

In a report published in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Mayo researchers employed real-time observations to determine the effects of pre-op briefings on intraoperative delays related to missing equipment, lack of procedural knowledge or staff miscommunication.

Researchers note that pre-op briefings dropped incidences of miscommunication by 53%. Although lack of effective communication never resulted in adverse events, surgical efficiencies were affected when, for example, surgeons had to repeat requests for medications or clarify procedure steps, or nurses left the OR to fetch needed supplies.

The briefings, which involved each team member discussing their roles in the procedure and patient-care concerns, occurred before patients entered the OR and lasted between 1 and 8 minutes. "The goal of the briefings was to get everyone used to talking when there wasn't a problem, so they would be more likely to speak up when problems occur," says Thoralf Sundt, MD, a Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeon who volunteered his surgery team for the study. "We know that miscommunication is a major cause of sentinel events, an unexpected death or serious injury."

Daniel Cook

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