Skytron Blog

The Resilient Operating Room Team
  • Written By
    Rebecca Kinney
  • Published
    April 11, 2024

Examining research on building resilience, we see that achieving positive outcomes requires the interplay of these various factors.

Working in the Operating room and supporting departments is not for the faint of heart. It takes more than a steal gut, strong gag reflex, and thick skin. It takes massive amounts of resilience to be up to the task of working in an OR. In this newsletter, we explore a few research studies that spell out what is needed to create resilience; some may surprise you! We also briefly touch on what Harvard Business Review says are the four things resilient teams do. In the OR, achieving any form of positive outcomes without each other’s help is impossible.

Resilience: A Vital Asset in the Operating Room

“People want to belong to things they can be proud of. They crave organizational identification. When you impart that they are part of an elite group that always responds with professionalism and quality to any situation or crisis, your facility has a fine package of resilience.” Wayne M. Sotile, Ph.D., has consulted and lectured on resilience (and the lack thereof) in health care for over 40 years. Working with over 12,000 physicians and surgeons as clients in our practice states, “Given the current state of things, resilience in surgery is more crucial than ever.” In his recent Outpatient Surgery magazine article, he gives multiple resilience tactics and strategies.

Insights from Research

A BMC Health Services Research study, identified the following:

“The findings revealed three generic categories covering ways of creating safe care in the OR: preconditions and resources, planning and preparing for the expected and unexpected, and adapting to the unexpected. In each generic category, one sub-category emerged that was common to all three professions: coordinating and reaffirming information, creating a plan for the patient and undergoing mental preparation, and prioritizing and solving upcoming problems, respectively.”

One additional study, dove into the effects of perioperative briefing and debriefing on teamwork in the OR. The research spanned over a couple of years and involved all members of five surgical teams from a hospital in the Netherlands. The study included one pretest and two post-test measurements: one month before, four months after, and 2.5 years after the implementation of perioperative briefing and debriefing, respectively.

Results: Members of the five surgical teams strongly agreed with the positive influence of perioperative briefing and debriefing on clear agreements and reminding one another of the agreements of the day. They perceived a higher efficiency of the surgical program with more operations starting on time and less unexpectedly long operation times. The perioperative briefing took less than 4 min to conduct. That is quite the impact in 4 minutes of briefing and debriefing regularly. Is this a measure you use outside of time-outs, shift huddles, and pre- and post-op counts in your facility?

Learnings from Harvard Business Review

According to this Harvard Business Review article, here are the four things resilient teams have in common:

  1. Strong Team Unity: Resilient teams work together, believing they can tackle any task. They combine confidence with humility to stay alert for the challenges ahead.
  2. Clear Team Communication: Each team member knows their role and how to support others during tough times, ensuring smooth coordination and quick decision-making.
  3. Adaptability: Resilient teams are flexible, using their collective experience to create creative solutions on the spot.
  4. Supportive Environment: Team members feel safe to share ideas and concerns, creating a culture of trust and openness vital for handling unexpected situations

Regardless of what challenges you face in your OR, the research is clear that having the ability to adapt, plan, communicate, and have the proper resources are all necessary components of a resilient OR.

At Skytron, we believe that products and services are important, but a company is only as good as its people. And it’s no different in your ORs; without you, patient safety and great outcomes wouldn’t be possible. Let’s remain resilient and grow together.