Team performance in the OR requires a combination of interactions between professionals and adherence to clinical guidelines. It is possible, theoretically, that OR teams could communicate well but fail to follow standards of practice and vice versa. OR simulations offer an ideal environment to study this relationship.
The goal of this study from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, was to determine the correlation between OR teamwork and adherence to patient care guidelines in simulated scenarios of malignant hyperthermia (MH).
The researchers found no relationship between technical and nontechnical skills, in that teams with high teamwork behaviors did not treat MH more correctly, and vice versa. Some teams completed only 50% of recommended actions for managing an MH patient, despite previous instruction about MH in education pathways.
The findings suggest that separating nontechnical and technical skills when teaching OR teamwork is artificial and may be damaging. This approach could produce teams that have excellent communication skills yet manage the patient unsuccessfully.
Therefore, the researchers say, the concept of technical skills must be broadened to go beyond motor skills and include application of clinical knowledge to solve a clinical problem.
—Phitayakorn R, Minehart R D, Hemingway M W, et al. The relationship between intraoperative teamwork and management skills in patient care. Surgery. 2015;158(5):1434-1440.