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Let’s Talk Teamwork: Multi-Professional Team Briefings in WA Operating Theatres

From Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Surgical News, May 2017

We are pleased to share with you an article written by our researchers (Dr Laura Fruhen, Joseph Carpini and Professor Sharon Parker) that was recently published in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Surgical News.

The article describes how, guided by our researchers, several hospitals in WA are now engaging in an initiative to introduce multi-professional team briefings in operating theatres. These short briefings, which occur before the start of operating lists, operate on two levels – information sharing and opening up communication. They include all professional groups working in operating theatres (i.e. surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and technicians), and are designed to facilitate teamwork, and support theatre efficiency and safety. Information sharing during the briefings clarifies expectations and provide staff with a shared understanding that reduces ambiguity and makes roles clearer; while the open communication establishes a collaborative team environment. The team is able to discuss what surgeries are scheduled, the roles people will play and it allows the team to prepare for possible issues.

The research team are in the process of analysing the impact of briefings in more detail, but preliminary results suggest that the rewards are likely to be enhanced efficiency, more staff satisfaction at work and improved patient outcomes. It provides an excellent example of how psychological initiatives on work design can positively impact work places.

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