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Tasks, multitasking and interruptions among the surgical team in an operating room: a prospective observational study.
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2019 (English)In: BMJ Open, ISSN 2044-6055, E-ISSN 2044-6055, Vol. 9, no 5, article id e026410Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVES: The work context of the operating room (OR) is considered complex and dynamic with high cognitive demands. A multidimensional view of the complete preoperative and intraoperative work process of the surgical team in the OR has been sparsely described. The aim of this study was to describe the type and frequency of tasks, multitasking, interruptions and their causes during surgical procedures from a multidimensional perspective on the surgical team in the OR.

DESIGN: Prospective observational study using the Work Observation Method By Activity Timing tool.

SETTING: An OR department at a county hospital in Sweden.

PARTICIPANTS: OR nurses (ORNs) (n=10), registered nurse anaesthetists (RNAs) (n=8) and surgeons (n=9).

RESULTS: The type, frequency and time spent on specific tasks, multitasking and interruptions were measured. From a multidimensional view, the surgical team performed 64 tasks per hour. Communication represented almost half (45.7%) of all observed tasks. Concerning task time, direct care dominated the surgeons' and ORNs' intraoperative time, while in RNAs' work, it was intra-indirect care. In total, 48.2% of time was spent in multitasking and was most often observed in ORNs' and surgeons' work during communication. Interruptions occurred 3.0 per hour, and the largest proportion, 26.7%, was related to equipment. Interruptions were most commonly followed by professional communication.

CONCLUSIONS: The surgical team constantly dealt with multitasking and interruptions, both with potential impact on workflow and patient safety. Interruptions were commonly followed by professional communication, which may reflect the interactions and constant adaptations in a complex adaptive system. Future research should focus on understanding the complexity within the system, on the design of different work processes and on how teams meet the challenges of a complex adaptive system.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: 2016/264.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 9, no 5, article id e026410
Keywords [en]
complexity, interruptions, multitasking, operating room, patient safety
National Category
Health Sciences
Research subject
Health and Welfare
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-30086DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026410ISI: 000471192800188PubMedID: 31097486Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85065927356OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-30086DiVA, id: diva2:1317176
Available from: 2019-05-22 Created: 2019-05-22 Last updated: 2019-07-04Bibliographically approved

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