Quantitative analysis of intraoperative communication in open and laparoscopic surgery.
Sevdalis N., Wong HWL., Arora S., Nagpal K., Healey A., Hanna GB., Vincent CA.
BACKGROUND: Communication is important for patient safety in the operating room (OR). Several studies have assessed OR communications qualitatively or have focused on communication in crisis situations. This study used prospective, quantitative observation based on well-established communication theory to assess similarities and differences in communication patterns between open and laparoscopic surgery. METHODS: Based on communication theory, a standardized proforma was developed for assessment in the OR via real-time observation of communication types, their purpose, their content, and their initiators/recipients. Data were collected prospectively in real time in the OR for 20 open and 20 laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs. Assessors were trained and calibrated, and their reliability was established statistically. RESULTS: During 1,884 min of operative time, 4,227 communications were observed and analyzed (2,043 laparoscopic vs 2,184 open communications). The mean operative duration (laparoscopic, 48 min vs open, 47 min), mean communication frequency (laparoscopic, 102 communications/procedure vs open, 109 communications/procedure), and mean communication rate (laparoscopic, 2.13 communications/min vs open, 2.23 communications/min) did not differ significantly across laparoscopic and open procedures. Communications were most likely to be initiated by surgeons (80-81 %), to be received by either other surgeons (46-50%) or OR nurses (38-40 %), to be associated with equipment/procedural issues (39-47 %), and to provide direction for the OR team (38-46%) in open and laparoscopic cases. Moreover, communications in laparoscopic cases were significantly more equipment related (laparoscopic, 47 % vs open, 39 %) and aimed significantly more at providing direction (laparoscopic, 46 % vs open, 38 %) and at consulting (laparoscopic, 17 % vs open, 12 %) than at sharing information (laparoscopic, 17 % vs open, 31 %) (P < 0.001 for all). CONCLUSIONS: Numerous intraoperative communications were found in both laparoscopic and open cases during a relatively low-risk procedure (average, 2 communications/min). In the observed cases, surgeons actively directed and led OR teams in the intraoperative phase. The lack of communication between surgeons and anesthesiologists ought to be evaluated further. Simple, inexpensive interventions shown to streamline intraoperative communication and teamworking (preoperative briefing, surgeons' mental practice) should be considered further.