Improving OR communication

July 1, 2006

Traditionally, the operating room has been the domain of surgeons. It was thought that giving surgeons whatever they wanted in the OR would result in the best outcomes for patients. But now, a collaborative project of at least a dozen hospitals is challenging this concept: The Transformation of the OR (TOR) project hopes to create an environment in which all members of the surgical team can feel free to speak up to ensure the patient's safety and well-being. The initiatives proposed by TOR include:

Traditionally, the operating room has been the domain of surgeons. It was thought that giving surgeons whatever they wanted in the OR would result in the best outcomes for patients. But now, a collaborative project of at least a dozen hospitals is challenging this concept: The Transformation of the OR (TOR) project hopes to create an environment in which all members of the surgical team can feel free to speak up to ensure the patient's safety and well-being. The initiatives proposed by TOR include:

These steps allow the surgeon to remain primarily in charge of the patient's care, while also taking into account the observations of others on the surgical team, according to American Medical News (5/8/06). These observations could identify omissions or potential errors before they harm the patient.

The TOR project is a follow-up to the Transformation of the ICU project-both of which are sponsored by VHA, an alliance of more than 2,400 nonprofit health-care organizations. Hospitals participating in this first project have already seen a 41% decrease in ventilator-associated pneumonias, 18% fewer ICU patient deaths, and 11% shorter hospital stays.