The ‘sterile’ OR - Medical Training Magazine

The ‘sterile’ OR

sterile

Written by Andy Smith, MTM publisher

Anyone who has had the misfortune to watch a hospital drama has seen it, the virtuoso surgeon in his multicolored scrubs complete with a head covering exhibiting trendy logos, chattering away about his/her latest affair, feuding across the table with team members, while heavy rock blasts out over the sound system, and he/she is cutting the patient in half and stitching him back together, between tracks.

According to the OR Black Box that may not be as far from the truth as most patients hope.

Recent reports into the ‘secretive high-risk environment’, AKA the operating room/theatre, show surgeons are distracted in up to 44 percent of cases.

There is more; distractions from bells and alarms are on average 95 times per surgical case, device malfunctions 35 percent of the time, and with doors opening and closing threatening the sterile environment up to 41 times per procedure. Plus of course chatting and ‘people playing with their cell phones.’

According to clinical staff interviewed for the feature for Canadian TV, and observations of operations in a dozen or so hospitals in the US, Canada and Europe, this did not used to be the case. Standards have slipped, in a world where professionals have to be in constant communication or attached to EHRs, Facebook or some other anti social media.

Clearly self-regulation is no longer sufficient to guarantee a professional approach from those who are supposed to be professional and indeed are automatically granted professional status once qualified.

Once again let us look at a group who acts professionally (almost all the time) and have clear rules to guide them, which if not followed, open them to prosecution should an accident occur.

The commercial airline pilot is not allowed general conversation whilst taking off or landing while flying under 10,000 feet. They occupy a ‘sterile cockpit’.

It is surely time for the Colleges/Boards to regulate OR behavior to ensure the best chance of safe operations and quality outcomes.