SURGEONS ATTITUDES TO TEAMWORK AND SAFETY

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1 SURGEONS ATTITUDES TO TEAMWORK AND SAFETY Steven Yule 1, Rhona Flin 1, Simon Paterson-Brown 2 & Nikki Maran 3 1 Industrial Psychology Research Centre, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK Departments of 2 Surgery and 3 Anaesthesia, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Contact: or Attitudes towards human and organizational factors can have an impact on effective team performance and consequently on patient safety. The Operating Room Management Attitudes Questionnaire (ORMAQ) measures attitudes to leadership, communication, teamwork, stress and fatigue, work values, and organizational climate. Data were collected from 231 consultant and trainee surgeons, and 121 surgical nurses from 17 Scottish Hospitals using a customized version of the ORMAQ. The respondents generally demonstrated positive attitudes to teamwork, leadership and safety and were similar to those reported in previous ORMAQ surveys of anaesthetists in Scotland and of surgeons in other countries. However, consultant and trainee surgeons differed in their attitudes to briefings, critical situations, and competence acknowledgement. Keywords: surgeons; attitude survey; safety; error; team work INTRODUCTION Reported incidence rates of adverse events in UK and US hospitals have resulted in professional and governmental exhortation and guidance designed to improve standards of patient safety. Analyses have shown that the problems are primarily attributed to human failure rather than technical malfunction. It is apparent that non-technical skills, such as leadership, decision making, assertiveness and team coordination play a major role in error management in the operating theatre. Helmreich et al. extended their work with the aviation industry to examine the attitudes of hospital operating room (OR) personnel to teamwork and safety. They adapted the Cockpit and Flight Management Attitudes Questionnaires (CMAQ, FMAQ) to produce the Operating Room Management Attitudes Questionnaire (ORMAQ) (Schaefer & Helmreich, 1993; Helmreich et al., 1997). This measures theatre staff attitudes to stress, hierarchy, teamwork and error, using items that are relevant to understanding error, predictive of performance, and sensitive to training interventions. ORMAQ surveys have been run in healthcare settings in the US and Europe (e.g. Helmreich & Davies, 1996; Sexton et al., 2000, Flin et al., 2003). As attitudes and values relating to workplace behaviours can be culturally determined, and health care systems vary across cultures, the generality of the above results to medical practices across other countries remains to be determined. This paper reports the preliminary findings of the first survey of surgeons and surgical nurses in the UK, using the ORMAQ to collect attitudinal data relating to teamwork and safety. METHOD Questionnaire. The version of the Operating Room Management Attitudes Questionnaire (ORMAQ) used in this study consisted of 60 Likert scale attitude statements relating to eight themes: Leadership-Structure; Confidence- Assertion; Information Sharing; Stress and Fatigue; Team Work; Work Values; Error; Organizational Climate. Respondents indicated the extent to which they agreed with each statement on a five point scale ranging from Disagree strongly (1), Disagree slightly (2), Neutral (3), Agree slightly (4) and Agree strongly (5). The ORMAQ was adapted for use in the UK with the help of three consultant surgeons. The questionnaire was designed to be completed anonymously, and the only biographical data requested related to hospital, nationality, grade and experience. Sample. The survey was conducted at 17 hospitals in Scotland. Only cardiac, general and orthopaedic surgeons were included. A total of 231 useable responses were collected, 138 from consultant surgeons (response rate: 48) and 93 from trainee surgeons (response rate: 27). In addition, 121 responses were collected from theatre nurses (response rate: 19) which do not contribute to the analyses presented here but comparisons will be

2 made between surgeons and nurses attitudes when this study is presented at the HFES 48 th annual meeting. Table 1 shows the demographic information collected from the sample. Insert table 1 about here RESULTS The results are organised according to the proposed conceptual/ thematic structure presented by Flin et al. (2003) in similar research with anaesthetists. No statistically-derived factor structure is reported in the literature for the ORMAQ although Helmreich and Davies (1996) state that all the scales they derived from the ORMAQ had alpha values of (no specific details are given). The groupings shown in Table 2 should therefore be regarded as indicative rather than definitive and they have been presented this way for ease of interpretation. Table 2 shows the percentage frequency of responses of Consultant and trainee surgeons to each item responses on Disagree strongly and Disagree slightly have been combined, as have those on Agree strongly and Agree slightly. Original item numbers are shown to indicate the order they appeared in the questionnaire. Insert table 2 about here DISCUSSION The results in table 2 indicate that overall consultant and trainee surgeons show a good awareness of leadership and team work issues relating to safety. However there are more mixed attitudes regarding error management, responses to stress and fatigue, and the organizational climate. The results show that while in the main, the respondents were concerned about safety and were aware of factors influencing human performance, there remain a number of attitudinal patterns which may merit further investigation. In particular, there are a number of clear differences between consultants and trainees attitudes in table 2. Some of these differences are likely to arise as a result of the hierarchy and training regime in theatre, where the consultant is of higher status and authority than the trainee. For example, 46 of trainees agree that they rely on their superiors to tell them what to do in critical situations compared with only 9 of consultants (item 34). Likewise, a higher proportion of trainees felt uncomfortable telling theatre personnel from other disciplines what to do (59 vs. 41, item 36). Another important difference between trainee and consultant surgeons are attitudes towards briefings. Trainees appear to favour regular debriefings postoperatively much more than consultant surgeons (72 vs. 44, item 12). To provide further evidence for this difference, 51 of trainees thought that a pre-session briefing was important for safety, compared with 37 of consultants (item 19). Anecdotal evidence suggests that formal briefing and de-briefing of events in the operating theatre is not commonplace in the UK. Finally, the results suggest that trainees are more keen for their competence to be acknowledged by others than consultants (67 vs. 47, item 20), and that trainees appear to place much more emphasis on the negative aspects of making a mistake than consultants do (62 vs. 39, item 33). CONCLUSION Analyses comparing consultant surgeons attitudes to those of trainee surgeons, anaesthetists, and theatre nurses are on-going. Early findings suggest that there are significant effects of seniority when comparing the attitudes of consultant surgeons with trainee surgeons, and theatre nurses. The emerging differences between trainee and consultant surgeons discussed above will be subject to significance testing. Additionally, there has been relatively little research on the psychometric properties of the ORMAQ. A statistical examination of the proposed factor structure and a number of validity and reliability tests are ongoing, the results of which will be presented at the HFES 48 th annual meeting. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This research project was funded by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and NHS Education Scotland. The views presented are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the position or policy of the funding bodies.

3 REFERENCES Flin R., Fletcher G., McGeorge P., Sutherland A., & Patey R. (2003). Anaesthetists' attitudes to teamwork and safety. Anaesthesia; 58: Helmreich R & Davies J. (1996). Human factors in the operating room: interpersonal determinants of safety, efficiency and morale. In A Aikenhead (Ed.) Balliere s Clinical Anaesthesiology, 10: 2, Helmreich R., & Schaefer H. G. (1994). Team performance in the operating room. In M Bogner (Ed.) Human Error in Medicine. Hillsdale, NJ: LEA, Helmreich R., Sexton B., & Merritt A. (1997). The Operating Room Management Attitudes Questionnaire (ORMAQ). University of Texas Aerospace Crew Research Project Technical Report Austin, Texas: The University of Texas. Schaefer H. & Helmreich R. (1993). The Operating Room Management Attitudes Questionnaire (ORMAQ). NASA/ University of Texas Technical Report. Austin: University of Texas. Sexton B., Thomas E., & Helmreich R. (2000). Error, stress, and teamwork in medicine and aviation: cross sectional surveys. British Medical Journal, 320:

4 Table 1: Sample demographics Level Demographics Consultant Trainee Nurse Surgeon Surgeon n response Range per hospital Years experience (std. deviation) 18.1 years (7.4) 3.9 years (2.9) 12.1 years (8.3) Gender 92 male 8 female 74 male 26 female 13 male 87 female Specialism: General (n) Specialism: Orthopaedic (n) Specialism: Cardiac (n) Specialism: Other (n) Specialism: not stated (n) Table 2. Consultant Surgeons attitudes to leadership, stress, teamwork, work values, error and organizational climate Leadership Structure 3. Senior staff should encourage questions from junior medical and nursing staff during operations if appropriate 10. Doctors who encourage suggestions from Operating Theatre team members are weak leaders 27. Successful Operating Theatre management is primarily a function of the doctor s medical and technical proficiency 42. Leadership of the Operating Theatre team should rest with the medical staff 50. There are no circumstances where a junior team member should assume control of patient management CONSULTANT SURGEONS Disagree Neutral Agree Disagree TRAINEE SURGEONS Neutral Agree Confidence-Assertion 1. The senior person, if available, should take over and make all decisions in life threatening emergencies Junior Operating Theatre team members should not question the decisions made by senior personnel If I perceive a problem with the management of a patient, I will speak up, regardless of who might be affected In critical situations, I rely on my superiors to tell me what to do I sometimes feel uncomfortable telling Operating Theatre members from other disciplines that they need to take some action 38. Team members should not question the decisions or actions of senior staff except when they threaten the safety of the operation 60. I always ask questions when I feel there is something I

5 don t understand Information Sharing 12. A regular debriefing of procedures and decisions after an Operating Theatre session or shift is an important part of developing and maintaining effective team co-ordination 13. Team members in charge should verbalise plans for procedures or actions and should be sure that the information is understood and acknowledged by others 16. I am encouraged by my leaders and co-workers to report any incidents I may observe 19. The pre-session team briefing is important for safety and for effective team management Stress and Fatigue 4. Even when tired, I perform effectively during critical phases of operations We should be aware of, and sensitive to, the personal problems of other team members I let other team members know when my workload is becoming (or is about to become) excessive My decision making is as good in emergencies as it is in routine situations I am more likely to make errors in tense or hostile situations I am less effective when stressed or tired My performance is not adversely affected by working with an inexperienced or less capable team member Team members should monitor each other for signs of stress or tiredness I become irritated when I have to work with inexperienced medical staff A truly professional team member can leave personal problems behind when working in the Operating Theatre Team members should feel obligated to mention their own psychological stress or physical problems to other Operating Theatre personnel before or during a shift or assignment 55. Personal problems can adversely affect my performance Team Work 17. The only people qualified to give me feedback are members of my own profession It is better to agree with other Operating theatre team members than to voice a different opinion The doctor s responsibilities include co-ordination between his or her work team and other support teams Operating Theatre team members share responsibilities for prioritising activities in high workload situations I enjoy working as part of a team To resolve conflicts, team members should openly discuss their differences with each other

6 48. All members of the Operating Theatre team are qualified to give me feedback 54. The concept of all Operating theatre personnel working as a team does not work at this hospital 56. Effective Operating Theatre team co-ordination requires members to take into account the personalities of other team members Work Values 6. Senior staff deserve extra benefits and privileges I do my best work when people leave me alone It bothers me when others do not respect my professional capabilities I try to be a person that others will enjoy working with It is important that my competence be acknowledged by others I value compliments about my work As long as the work gets done, I don t care what others think of me A good reputation in the Operating Theatre is important to me I value the goodwill of my fellow workers- I care that others see me as friendly and co-operative It is an insult to be forced to wait unnecessarily for other members of the Operating Theatre team In the Operating Theatre, I get the respect that a person of my profession deserves Error/ Procedural Compliance 29. Errors are a sign of incompetence I am ashamed when I make a mistake in front of other team members Procedures and policies are strictly followed in our Operating Theatre 41. Mistakes are handled appropriately in this hospital Human error is inevitable Team members frequently disregard rules or guidelines (e.g. handwashing, treatment protocols/clinical pathways, sterile field) developed for our Operating Theatre Organizational Climate 2. The department provides adequate, timely information about events in the hospital which might affect my work 24. Working in this hospital is like being part of a large family 30. Departmental leadership listens to staff and cares about our concerns 47. I am proud to work for this hospital I like my job I am provided with adequate training to successfully accomplish my job

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