Distractions in the operating room: a survey of the healthcare team

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Surgical endoscopy


BACKGROUND: Distractions during surgical procedures are associated with team inefficiency and medical error. Little is published about the healthcare provider's perception of distraction and its adverse impact in the operating room. We aim to explore the perception of the operating room team on multiple distractions during surgical procedures.

METHODS: A 26-question survey was administered to surgeons, anesthesia team members, nurses, and scrub technicians at our institution. Respondents were asked to identify and rank multiple distractions and indicate how each distraction might affect the flow of surgery.

RESULTS: There was 160 responders for a response rate of 19.18% (160/834), of which 71 (44.1%) male and 82 (50.9%) female, 48 (29.8%) surgeons, 59 (36.6%) anesthesiologists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), and 53 (32.9%) OR nurses and scrub technicians. Responders were classified into a junior group (< 10 years of experience) and a senior group (≥ 10 years). Auditory distraction followed by equipment were the most distracting factors in the operating room. All potential auditory distractions in this survey were associated with higher percentage of certain level of negative impact on the flow of surgery except for music. The top 5 distractors belonged to equipment and environment categories. Phone calls/ pagers/ beepers and case relevant communications were consistently among the top 5 most common distractors. Case relevant communications, music, teaching, and consultation were the top 4 most perceived positive impact on the flow of surgery. Distractors with higher levels of "bothersome" rating appeared to associate with a higher level of perceived negative impact on the flow of surgery. Vision was the least distracting factor and appeared to cause minimal positive impact on the flow of surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first survey studying perception of surgery, anesthesia, and OR staff on various distractions in the operating room. Fewer unnecessary distractions might improve the flow of surgery, improve OR teamwork, and potentially improve patient outcomes.

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ePub ahead of print

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