Improving communication within surgical teams

Dr Stewart Flemming and the theatre team hold pre-operative briefings
December 21, 2015

Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) will be at the centre of a unique research project exploring the potential of pre-operative interdisciplinary meetings to improve communication and team spirit within surgical teams.

With a State-funded Research Translation Project (RTP) grant Professor Sharon Parker, from the University of Western Australia’s School of Business, will look at whether better communication can prevent adverse events during operations.

FSH Plastic Surgeon Dr Stewart Flemming has conducted a pilot program of pre-operative briefings, which involve surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses, discussing issues such as specific roles, identifying equipment needs or change in a patient’s condition.

“We’re probably only talking about an extra five minutes at the start of a surgery list but an effective briefing can potentially enable the surgery to proceed more smoothly and provide flow on benefits such as reduced operating time, less time under anaesthesia, lower risk of infection, reduced waiting times for patients, fewer cancellations and better use of staff and resources,” Dr Flemming said.

Fieldwork for the study will take place at Fiona Stanley Hospital where interdisciplinary pre-operative briefings will be standard practice.