Archive December 2018 XIX, No. 12

Your Attention, Please: Time for a Time-Out

Before you can take a safety pause, you have to get the surgical team's attention.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


SAFETY PAUSE The entire surgical team must be present, and actively and verbally participate in the time-out to verify the patient's name and the surgical site before incision.

A time-out is not a time-out unless all members of the surgical team are present, proactive and participate. Require a spoken response from each team member: circulator, surgeon, anesthesia, scrub tech and any additional ancillary staff present during the case. The circulator confirms the patient's identity by the name tag on his wrist, and all verbally state confirmation. The nurse calls out the correct site and procedure, and all again orally confirm. Active participation means not mindlessly nodding so that they can get on with the case already. You want everyone taking their positions around the bed and identifying themselves by name (see "Embroidered Scrub Caps Make Close-Knit Teams" here).

How do you guarantee your staff participates with the surgical time out? For starters, you must get their attention, which is difficult to do during the busy few minutes before a procedure. Everyone must stop what they're doing and be mindful, engaged and focused on patient safety before the incision. Colorful reminders certainly help, products like checklists, posters, bags, stickers on syringes, hoods that cover the scalpel, reminder sleeves on the Mayo stand, cloths placed over the instrument tray or near the surgical site. For you do-it-yourselfers, here are a few more creative ideas to get the team's attention:

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