An evidence-based intraoperative communication tool for emergency general surgery: a pilot study

Alexandra B. Columbus, Manuel Castillo-Angeles, William R. Berry, Adil H. Haider, Ali Salim, Joaquim M. Havens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Emergency general surgery (EGS) is characterized by high rates of morbidity and mortality. Though checklists and associated communication-based huddle strategies have improved outcomes, these tools have never been specifically examined in EGS. We hypothesized that use of an evidence-based communication tool aimed to trigger intraoperative discussion could improve communication in the EGS operating room (OR). Materials and methods: We designed a set of discussion prompts based on modifiable factors identified from previously published studies aimed to encourage all team members to speak up and to centralize awareness of patient disposition and intraoperative transfusion practices. This tool was pilot-tested using OR human patient simulators and was then rolled out to EGS ORs at an academic medical center. The perceived effect of our tool's implementation was evaluated through mixed-methodologic presurvey and postsurvey analysis. Results: Preimplementation and postimplementation survey-based data revealed that providers reported the EGS-focused discussion prompts as improving team communication in EGS. A trend toward shared awareness of intraoperative events was observed; however, nurses described cultural impedance of discussion initiation. Providers described a need for further reinforcement of the tool and its indications during implementation. Conclusions: Use of a discussion-based communication tool is perceived as supporting team communication in the EGS OR and led to a trend toward improving a shared understanding of intraoperative events. Analyses suggest the need for enhanced reinforcement of use during implementation and improvement of team-based education regarding EGS. Furthermore work is needed to understand the full impact of this evidence-based tool on OR team dynamics and EGS patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute care surgery
  • Emergency general surgery
  • Patient safety
  • Surgical safety checklist


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