Gisborne lead on operating theatre briefings

Toni Lexmond,

On Thursday 27 June 2019 surgical teams in hospitals around the country are being encouraged to take the time to hold a 5-minute briefing prior to the day’s surgery beginning. The briefings ensure surgical team members know each other and understand each other’s roles. They then discuss and address questions about each surgery that will be performed that day.

At Gisborne Hospital, Thursday will not be a special day. Pre-surgery briefings are the norm and have been for the last eight years.

Pre-surgery briefing with the team at Gisborne hospital

Pictured doing the pre-surgery briefing on Surgical Briefing Awareness Day are from left Nurses Gina Meredith, Keisha Bartlett, Kerry Coburn, Candice Ericson, Anaesthetic Technician Gill Carlin, Anaesthetist Richard Morgan and Surgeon Peter Stiven.

The briefings are another way we ensure the safety of the people trusting us with their care, says theatre manager Sharon Patterson. “Surgery is a scary prospect for many people. It is important to us that we do everything we can to keep people safe. Making sure all staff who are in theatre, are on the same page, is proven to do just that.”

Surgical briefings at Gisborne Hospital theatres start daily at 8.20am, ten minutes before the first person on the day's surgical list comes into the operating theatre room.

The initiative was started in 2011. A simple sticker-based auditing system was used initially to make pre-surgical briefings the norm. Ms Patterson says “The sticker system was introduced to encourage all members of theatre teams to attend the team briefings and it worked really well.”

“After the implementation phase, it was decided that the first person up for surgery could not be brought into the theatre until the brief had been performed.”

At Gisborne Hospital the briefings are now the norm rather than the exception.

“The results show the theatre team is now more prepared for the day. We make the best use of the time available in theatre and any clinical concerns over people having surgery that day are discussed. This is all positive for people we are treating.”

Now the Health Quality and Safety Commission are promoting the “spend five to save lives” campaign to encourage the practice in theatres around the country. Surgical Briefing Awareness Day is 27 June 2019. International research backs up what has happened at Gisborne Hospital. 

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