Special Communication
August 2014

Improving Safety and Quality of Care With Enhanced Teamwork Through Operating Room Briefings

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Armstrong Institute, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Surg. 2014;149(8):863-868. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.172

Objectives  To describe the current state of the science for operating room (OR) briefings and debriefings, including an overview of key definitions, a review of the evidence of effectiveness, and a summary of our experiences as part of a comprehensive unit–based safety program.

Overview  Use of preoperative briefings has been shown to improve team communication, decrease disruptions to surgical workflow, improve compliance with antibiotic and deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, and improve overall perceptions about the safety climate in the OR. Studies have demonstrated that an effective briefing can be performed in less than 2 minutes and reduce delays by more than 80%. Effective implementation involves changing workflows and expectations of interaction among OR team members, including participation from leaders at all levels. Briefings and debriefings are a strategy for revealing defects and facilitating adaptive change in the OR.

Conclusions and Relevance  Briefings and debriefings are a good method for improving teamwork and communication in the OR. Effective implementation may be associated with improved patient outcomes. Commitment by the participating providers is essential for effective briefings, which include discussion of relevant information pertaining to the procedure.