Anesthesiologist, Nurse Relationships Key to Patient Throughput

Studies have suggested that a team approach and positive team interactions in the operating room can improve efficiency and patient care. The involvement of multiple nursing and ancillary staff with physicians in OR processes necessitates coordination between all stakeholders to ensure quality and safety. Howard Greenfield, MD, a principal of management and consulting firm Enhance Healthcare, explains how collaboration between a charge nurse and charge anesthesiologist can improve OR efficiency.

Dr. Greenfield suggests that each day, ORs designate a charge nurse and charge anesthesiologist to be responsible for patient care and OR throughput. "In hospitals where the charge physician and the charge nurse work together in conjunction as a team, the work tends to be more efficient and effective," he says.

The foundation of a successful nurse-anesthesia partnership is trust and communication. "Trust is built by working together and operating as a team," Dr. Greenfield says. One of the biggest mistakes a nurse and anesthesiologist who are developing a relationship can make is publicly blaming each other for any errors. Finger pointing can drive the two leaders apart rather than together, reducing their ability to successfully oversee OR processes.

Communication should start the day before the charge nurse and anesthesiologist are scheduled to work and should continue throughout the next day. For example, the nurse and anesthesiologist should review a printed schedule of the next day's operations and identify any gaps or potential delays. The size and shape of most ORs can present a challenge for communication because there are "little places and holes for people to hide," Dr. Greenfield says. It is therefore important that the charge nurse and anesthesiologist make a concerted effort to constantly communicate with one another to ensure superior patient care and efficient running of the operating suite.

Trust and communication between the nurse and anesthesiologist "enables them to work synergistically to provide great patient care and run the OR smoothly and effectively so surgeons and surgery cases can get in and get out," Dr. Greenfield says.

Learn more about Enhance Healthcare.

Related Articles on OR Efficiency:

6 Ways an Operating Room Can Become More Environmentally Friendly
Why Turnover Time May Not Be Best Bet for Improving OR Efficiency

How Natural Sunlight Can Positively Affect the Operating Room

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