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BMJ Qual Saf 20:711-717 doi:10.1136/bmjqs.2009.032672
  • Original research

Pre-surgery briefings and safety climate in the operating theatre

  1. Lee Coombes3
  1. 1Institute of Clinical Education, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Truro, Cornwall, UK
  2. 2Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, Cornwall, UK
  3. 3Institute of Clinical Education, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jon Allard, Institute of Clinical Education, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, The Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3HD, UK; jon.allard{at}pms.ac.uk
  • Accepted 23 March 2011
  • Published Online First 14 June 2011

Abstract

Background In 2008, the WHO produced a surgical safety checklist against a background of a poor patient safety record in operating theatres. Formal team briefings are now standard practice in high-risk settings such as the aviation industry and improve safety, but are resisted in surgery. Research evidence is needed to persuade the surgical workforce to adopt safety procedures such as briefings.

Objective To investigate whether exposure to pre-surgery briefings is related to perception of safety climate.

Methods Three Safety Attitude Questionnaires, completed by operating theatre staff in 2003, 2004 and 2006, were used to evaluate the effects of an educational intervention introducing pre-surgery briefings.

Results Individual practitioners who agree with the statement ‘briefings are common in the operating theatre’ also report a better ‘safety climate’ in operating theatres.

Conclusions The study reports a powerful link between briefing practices and attitudes towards safety. Findings build on previous work by reporting on the relationship between briefings and safety climate within a 4-year period. Briefings, however, remain difficult to establish in local contexts without appropriate team-based patient safety education. Success in establishing a safety culture, with associated practices, may depend on first establishing unidirectional, positive change in attitudes to create a safety climate.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Ethical approval was sought and granted from the Ethics Committee of the hospital Trust, where the study was treated as an audit of an educational intervention.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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