Hospital Improves Surgical Safety

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Working together is important in almost every career, but in the medical field, and specifically during surgery, communication is vital. That’s why staff at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend are making changes to way they communicate in the operating room.

“I’ve been a neurosurgeon for 25 years. This is the first time we have training that involves the nurses, the techs…surgeons and anesthesiologists all as one group,” said Dr. Andrea Halliday, neurosurgeon at RiverBend.

The hospital’s operating room (OR) teams have recently started training in a new communications method called TeamSTEPPS. The method focuses on three main strategies. The first is briefing and debriefing.

“You wouldn’t go into a game without having a game plan, and half time is really for debreifing. And what you do at half time, you talk about what went well and what didn’t go well, and you make adjustments. And so we really should be doing that every day in the operating room,” Halliday said.

The second strategy is call backs.

“If the surgeon asks for something, someone needs to call back and say, ‘I’ve called for blood. The blood’s in the room.’ So you don’t have to worry about that,” Halliday said.

The third strategy is handoffs, ensuring when doctors and nursing staff relieve each other, there’s a streamlined approach of updating the new staff on the patients’ condition.

Something else that’s new is OR staff are practicing this new method through life-like simulations using mannequins.

“(It’s) an opportunity to practice events that don’t happen very often, so that we’re prepared for those,” said Bobbi Faust, Director of Surgical Quality and Safety.

RiverBend is already recognized as a leader in surgical patient safety, but staff say they’re constantly trying to get better and TeamSTEPPS is just one more step toward improvement.

“We have very good surgical outcomes, but we’re always striving to be the very, very best,” Faust said.

Hospital employees say this new communication system is helpful from everyone and a win-win-win, for doctors, staff and patient safety.

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