5 strategies to reduce distraction in the OR

Distractions are common in any workplace setting, and the perioperative environment of a hospital or surgery center is no exception. However, due to the high-risk nature of surgery, these distractions need to be kept to a minimum so everyone on the team can perform their important tasks to their best ability.

Renae Battie, MN, RN, the president of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, dove into this topic in an article in the July edition of AORN Journal. "Amid the day-to-day high-risk activities that comprise much of the work performed in perioperative settings, it is important to adhere to the high standards required for optimal patient and worker safety and to minimize distractions that may compromise the attention needed to perform high-risk activities," she wrote.

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Ms. Battie suggested the following five strategies as ways to reduce distractions in the operating room environment:

1. Revisit the paging and phone policies in the OR and how they are managed.

2. Identify times when perioperative team members tend to interrupt others and develop a way to signal to one another that an uninterruptible task is being performed.

3. Perform additional training on the surgical instrument tracking system if perioperative team members are calling the sterile processing department just to locate an instrument set.

4. Discuss the protocol for playing music in the OR to make sure it is not too loud or inappropriate to limit distractions.

5. Ask team members to hold social conversations away from the unit desk in the OR or postanesthesia care unit.

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