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Koch, Amelie; Schlenker, Boris; Becker, Armin and Weigl, Matthias (2022): Operating room team strategies to reduce flow disruptions in high-risk task episodes: resilience in robot-assisted surgery. In: Ergonomics, Vol. 66, No. 8: pp. 1118-1131

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Abstract

In healthcare work settings, flow disruptions (FDs) pose a potential threat to patient safety. Resilience research suggests that adaptive behavioural strategies contribute to preventing cognitive overload through FDs at crucial moments. We aimed to explore the nature and efficacy of operating room (OR) team strategies to prevent FDs in robot-assisted surgery. Within a mixed-methods design, we first asked surgical professionals, which strategies they apply, and secondly, identified behavioural strategies through direct observations. Findings were analysed using content analysis. Additionally, FDs were assessed through live observations in the OR. The sample included four interviewed experts and 15 observed surgical cases. Sixty originally received strategies were synthesised into 17 final OR team strategies. Overall, 658 FDs were observed with external FDs being the most frequent. During high-risk episodes, FDs were significantly reduced (p < 0.0001). The identified strategies reveal how OR teams deliberatively and dynamically manage and mitigate FDs during critical tasks. Our findings contribute to a nuanced understanding of adaptive strategies to safeguard performance in robot surgery services. Practitioner Summary: Flow disruptions (FDs) in surgical work may become a severe safety threat during high-risk situations. With interviews and observations, we explored team strategies applied to prevent FDs in critical moments. We obtained a comprehensive list of behavioural strategies and found that FDs were significantly reduced during a specific high-risk surgical task. Our findings emphasise the role of providers' and teams' adaptive capabilities to manage workflow in high-technology care environments.

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