November 27, 2007

Managers Explore the Importance of Transparency in Todays OR Suite

Many of the educational sessions of this years Managing Todays OR Suite, held in San Diego Oct. 3-5, touched upon the importance of maintaining a transparent operating room (OR), in which adverse events, risks, and challenges can be discussed openly and positive resolutions for optimum patient outcomes can be achieved.

The conference was extraordinarily successful, with strong general session speakers, says Ellie Schrader, president of OR Manager, Inc., the organizer of the event, from Scott Waddles moving presentation about how he handled an adverse event in his own life with integrity, faith and resilience, to David Marx, JD, who described the role of a open, fair, and just culture. A Navy commander, Waddle related his experience serving as captain of the U.S. nuclear submarine which collided with a Japanese fishing boat in February 2001, a story that made international headlines.

Marx, president of Outcome Engineering, LLC, alluded to a quote from Lucian Leape, MD, a Harvard professor, who observed, The single greatest impediment to error prevention in the medical industry is that we punish people for making mistakes, when Leape addressed Congress on healthcare quality improvement. Marx explained that to err is human, and that healthcare professionals must learn to face risk and manage around the individuals and organizations collective values to create an open and just culture in the medical environment.

Marx explained further that a just culture model focuses on three duties the duty to avoid causing unjustified risk or harm; the duty to produce an outcome; and the duty to follow a procedural rule balanced against organizational and individual values of safety, cost, effectiveness, equity and dignity. Marx also said that a just culture is about creating not only a culture that embraces learning, but that incorporates safe systems and the ability to manage behavioral choices. A proactive learning culture, Marx explained, is not seeing events as things to be fixed, but seeing events as opportunities to improve the institutions and the individuals understanding of risk.

Patient safety was a strong trend at the conference, with several speakers addressing that important topic, Schrader notes. Having worked with OR nurses for more than 30 years, I am always impressed with how much more sophisticated and complex the job of the OR director has become.

A number of sessions were designed to help OR nurse managers become more effective leaders and fine-tune their skill sets in the OR and with an eye toward improved business operations. Several exhibitors provided continuing education opportunities on the exhibit hall floor. In her presentation, Guess Whos Coming to Surgery, Kathleen Stoessel, RN, BSN, MS, senior manager of clinical education for Kimberly-Clark Health Care, described the impact of surgical site infections (SSIs), addressed the common patient-related factors that increase the risk of SSIs, and discussed risk-reduction strategies that attendees could incorporate in their own ORs.

According to Schrader, the conference attracted more than 725 attendees as well as more than 100 exhibiting companies. We are happy that we are able to provide a conference that is an excellent learning and networking experience for managers of the surgical suite, Schrader says.