As part of an international imperative toward decreasing medical error, hospitals are adopting teamwork training curricula from other high risk industries, such as aviation. Although these curricula are beginning to find measurable success in medicine, they are not perfectly suited for the operating room (OR). The OR is a highly social and hierarchical setting where historically estranged interprofessional team members must work interdependently under pressure. Unresolved conflicts upset team cohesion, reduce team effectiveness, and potentially lead to adverse patient outcomes. Borrowing methods from primatology, a discipline in which conflict and conflict resolution are viewed as important, naturally occurring social events, this project will document the interpersonal interactions of OR team members. The PI and other interested parties from Emory Healthcare will use this documentation to lay the groundwork for the design of a novel reconciliation protocol that will also be inspired by primatology. Rapid and simple, involving a public acknowledgement of differences and a reconciliatory handshake, this protocol will be explicit and replicable at other healthcare institutions. It will complement already existing medical teambuilding curricula, such as TeamSTEPPS. Ultimately, the proposed research will help minimize distraction, staff turnover, and medical error, and it will help maximize the amount of time available for patient care. OR patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of this important research initiative.
This project will document conflict between surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses in the operating room (OR). The methodology, and ultimately the groundwork for the design of a new reconciliation protocol, will be inspired by methodologies and reconciliation protocols familiar to primatologists.