• By Dana Sparks

Science Saturday: Reengineering the OR, one step at a time

April 13, 2019

wide shot of a Mayo Clinic operating roomSurgeon Heidi Nelson, M.D. wanted advice on making surgery safer. Not for patients this time, but for surgeons and their teams.

“We can’t manage what we cannot measure. The surgical world is changing at a fast pace and we want to make sure the environment is fully supportive of the increasing complexity of the jobs to be done,” says Dr. Nelson.

While she says that surgeons will do what needs to be done to get good patient outcomes, unusual physical and mental strains come with a cost. “For rare cases or the short term that is fine but it is not sustainable.”

As chair of the Department of Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., she didn’t have to go far: At Mayo Clinic, there are engineers just down the hall. In the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, a team of health systems engineering experts was ready to answer her questions.

Dr. Nelson sat down with Katherine Law, Ph.D., and Susan Hallbeck, Ph.D., Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Health Care Systems Engineering. Together they began a collaboration to investigate and improve safety in the operating room and surgical team wellness, starting with surgeon workload. The team’s results, published in the Annals of Surgery, examined workload across all specialties within of the Department of Surgery.

Using surveys, the team identified potential predictors of high workload for future performance improvement. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.

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