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Research Letter
January 2017

Investigating Teamwork in the Operating RoomEngaging Stakeholders and Setting the Agenda

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison
  • 3University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison
  • 4Department of Systems and Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(1):109-111. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.3110

The operating room (OR) offers a unique opportunity to explore concepts of teams and teamwork. Communication and teamwork contribute to adverse events.1,2 Attempts at intervention, such as crew resource management, have had mixed results.3 While survey-based studies have shown discipline-specific differences in perceived teamwork in the operative setting,4 we have a poor understanding of how unique aspects of operative environments, teams, and culture contribute to these problems. Quantitative and observational studies are insufficient to explore the complex function and behaviors of operative teams. Although qualitative evaluations of surgical care exist,5,6 to our knowledge, there has been minimal investigation of clinicians’ perceptions on topics of operative team identity, management of operative team member unfamiliarity, and intraoperative hand-offs. Engaging stakeholders and evaluating their perspectives is critical to setting an agenda for further investigation and the design and implementation of best practice guidelines or team training interventions.

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