Improving Patient Safety Standards for Clinical Professionals

The operating theatre is a high risk domain: effective, safe anaesthesia and surgery require competence in non-technical  skills, such as in teamwork, as well as clinical skills.

Unlike other higher risk occupations (e.g. aviation), non-technical skills had not been specifically addressed by the medical professions. Patient safety research by Professor Flin and colleagues revealed that failures in these skills are a common healthcare risk. 

Based on Professor Flin’s involvement in research into non-technical skills of airline pilots, she lead a series of multidisciplinary studies, at Aberdeen University, designed to identify the non-technical skills for operating theatre staff, and to develop and test behavioural rating systems for their evaluation.

It has been very rewarding to see clinical professionals from different countries using the tools developed from our psychological research"
Professor Rhona Flin

The results have been applied in the context of work by anaesthetists, surgeons and other medical practitioners and the skill sets have been incorporated into professional standards of competence. Clinicians and clinical educators in a number of countries are now using the resulting tools, ANTS, NOTSS and SPLINTS (and translated versions) for training and assessment.

Find out more

  • Industrial Psychology Research Centre
  • Fletcher, G., Flin, R., McGeorge, P., Glavin, R., Maran, N., & Patey, R. (2003). Anaesthetists' Non-Technical Skills (ANTS): Evaluation of a behavioural marker system. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 90 (5), 580 - 588.
  • Yule, S., Flin, R., Maran, N., Youngson, G., Rowley, D. & Paterson-Brown, S. (2008) Surgeons’ non-technical skills in the operating room: Reliability testing of the NOTSS behaviour rating system. World Journal of Surgery, 32, 548-556.
  • Flin, R. & Mitchell, L. (2009) (Eds.) Safer Surgery. Analysing Behaviour in the Operating Theatre. Aldershot: Ashgate.

< Back to Research Impacts