Promoting Effective Communication in the Operating Room

Communication among anesthesia providers and surgeons is becoming increasingly important in the delivery of high-quality patient care with excellent outcomes. Considering the fact that most patients receive medical care from a team of specialists, it is essential that these specialists work together for the benefit of each patient. When it comes to communication in the operating room, communication between anesthesia providers and surgeons must be exceedingly clear—because the patient’s life may depend on it.

Increasing Communication Leads to Better Patient Outcomes

It is widely known that increased efficiency is linked to higher patient satisfaction scores and better patient outcomes. Increased efficiency and effective communication among OR team members go hand-in-hand. When communication is lacking, it can lead to bad patient outcomes and low patient satisfaction. Emphasizing the importance of respectful and clear communication between anesthesia providers and surgeons can make a significant difference in quality metrics and patient outcomes.

Decreasing Mistakes and Increasing Communication

At least 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States. Even though it is challenging to uncover a consistent cause of medical errors and, even if found, to provide a consistent viable solution that minimizes the chances of a recurrent event, we know communication plays an important role. There are several ways to promote a culture of open communication. At CCI Anesthesia, we promote:

A Team-Based Approach to Every Case

Traditionally, surgeons have been leaders of every case with other members of the surgical team taking their orders. However, today’s culture demands a more collaborative effort with checks and balances in place for different authorities in the OR. Our anesthesia providers are encouraged to view the entire OR staff as a team working toward a common goal—a positive patient outcome. Leveling the playing field in the OR can be a positive element of promoting a culture that values all teammates.

Outside the operating room, our anesthesia providers are encouraged to serve on hospital committees or in other leadership roles that allow them to help improve operational efficiencies. In these roles, our anesthesia providers are able to regularly coordinate with nursing and administrative staff to ensure everyone is on the same page. When teams work well together, everyone’s job is easier. This is why we offer mentorship opportunities to our boots-on-the-ground anesthesia providers through the CCI Leadership Institute.

Team Huddles and Time Outs Before Each Case

When it comes to surgery, every minute counts. Rather than wasting precious time after the first incision has been made, have a team huddle before each case to ensure every member of the OR team is on the same page. These should be standard to prevent chaos and miscommunication during a case. Having a quick time out before each case supports faster turnovers, better patient outcomes and reduces risks of errors.

Communicate Constantly During the Procedure

It is up to anesthesia providers to communicate constantly about a patient’s vital signs or other health indicators that may impact a surgeon’s course of action. This is especially important if something changes in the middle of surgery or in emergency surgeries. We always emphasize to our anesthesia providers that it is safer to over-communicate rather than leave details open to interpretation. When a patient’s life is in the hands of the surgeon and anesthesia provider, it is never inappropriate for these two teammates to communicate.

If your operating room lacks collaboration between surgeons and anesthesia providers, contact us today for more information on implementing change among your OR teams and transitioning to CCI Anesthesia