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Teamwork And Communication Training Yield More Success In Operating Rooms

  • Carol Pearson

A new study shows that communication and teamwork is just as important as the individual skills each member brings to a surgical team. According to the study, the doctors, nurses and technicians who make up these teams do better when they know how to communicate effectively before, during and after the surgery. Our correspondent reports on a training program that improved operating success and patient health.

Surgery is about to begin at this veteran's hospital in the state of Michigan.

The entire medical team has been trained to communicate about the operation and the patient before, during and after the operation.

Dr. James Bagian and nurse Julia Neily from the Veteran Administration studied procedures at more than 100 veterans hospitals. Medical teams at some of the hospitals received communication training while others did not.

"One of the key elements here was flattening the hierarchy in the operating room so that everybody, the scrub tech, the nurse, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, whomever it is in the operating room could bring up any concerns they had about the patient.," said Julia Neily.

"Better communications by briefings and debriefings that are guided by checklists enhance teamwork," said James Bagian.

The study showed that the medical teams that received training produced better results for the patients, including fewer deaths.

"The group that had the training initially had a 50 percent greater reduction in their mortality rate and that was greater reduction than the control group, the group that didn't have the training initially," said Neily.

In fact, the more training the operating teams had, the better the chances the patient would survive.

The researchers say at first, some team members didn't see the value of communication training.

But when they found that the training helped them perform the surgery in less time, do it better, and improve outcomes, they became enthusiastic.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.