It’s estimated that up to 12% of hospital patients experience an ‘adverse event’ and about 50% of these are related to surgery.
Adverse events could be wrong site surgery; retained swabs or instruments; mistakes with drugs; avoidable infection, and sometimes even death.
Now a new book co-edited by two psychologists from University of Aberdeen, Professor Rhona Flin and Lucy Mitchell, gives an insight into the working relationships in operating theatres and explains how these can impact on patient safety.
Professor Flin, who heads the University of Aberdeen's Patient Safety Research Group, said: “Operating theatres are very private workplaces. There have been few research investigations into how highly trained doctors and nurses work together to achieve safe and efficient anaesthesia and surgery.
“Over the years there have been major advances in surgical and anaesthetic procedures, but there are still significant risks for hospital patients.
“Because of rising concern about patient safety, surgeons and anaesthetists are looking at ways of minimising adverse events.
“Some clinicians are keen to bring research techniques into the operating theatre, which are used in other sectors such as the aviation and offshore industries, in order to study the behaviour of surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists.
“Our new book Safer Surgery is written by psychologists, surgeons and anaesthetists, and presents one of the first collections of studies designed to understand the factors influencing safe and efficient surgical, anaesthetic and nursing practice.
“It is aimed at clinical and research staff interested in patient safety and is intended to show that the behaviour of staff working in operating theatres can affect the safety of surgical patients.”
Professor George Youngson CBE, Director of Standards, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, added: “As more treatments become available through advances in surgical technology, support and technique, it is equally important that this progress is balanced by attention to the risks inherent in such care and safety considerations.
“This book outlines the developments made in important areas of teamwork, behaviours and decisions taken by the surgeon and his or her team and understanding how they make an impact upon the care given to patients during surgery.
“The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh along with the University of Aberdeen has worked collaboratively to investigate the non-technical skills required by those working in the operating theatre. This book pulls together those experiences and is augmented by contributions by other international experts working in this field.”