Friday, September 25, 2009

Communication in the OR

Life in the OR is dynamic.  Strong personalities comprise the OR staff.  There is a saying that "OR nurses eat their young".  Unfortunately, this seems to be true very often.  This is a sad statement.  The primary premise of a team approach is essential to the smooth running of the OR.  In order to be an effective team, we must communicate with each other.

Communication is essential, but seems to be lacking in so many ways.  Surgeons fail to communicate their plan for the operation.  Nurses fail to communicate to each other about what needs to be gathered for the procedure or changes made to the procedure.  The OR desk fails to communicate any changes to the procedure reported to them.  All of these produce a downward cascade leading to  dissatisfaction.  Nurses and scrub technicians feel extreme frustration when these things occur.  Physicians feel anger when their needs aren't met.  The patient and patient care suffers. 

How can we fix this?  It starts one person at a timeYou need to strive to be the best communicator you can be.  When you learn a new piece of information, stop and think of who you need to tell.  Does this change the set-up in the room?  Will we need equipment and supplies we don't have?  Do we need more time to gather necessary supplies before the patient comes back to the OR?  Did you tell the surgeon, anesthesia, and the front desk about the delay?  If you communicate freely and consistently it will wear off on others around you.  Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Communication can't improve if you don't change.  Whining or complaining about how bad the communication is in your department won't change a thing.  It may even lessen the importance of what you say because you will be labeled as a "complainer".  Do some soul searching and determine how effective your communication is.  Strive to improve.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with Beth. Communication is the absolute root of success. While some hospitals across the country have acquired new technology to help with communication, its basis must lie with the human component. To improve communication is a large undertaking, and one that must be done with diligence and consistency. One must feel autonomous enough to speak freely and with confidence to teammates and co-workers, and it will undoubtedly result in better communication in the OR, resulting in a more positive outcome for the patient and their families.