Some of the concepts contained here have been discussed and incorporated in another publication, but the data are entirely unique to this manuscript. (See: Transforming the Surgical “Time-Out” Into a Comprehensive “Preparatory Pause.” Backster A, Teo A, Swift M, MD, Polk HC Jr, MD, FACS, Harken AH, MD, FACS. J Cardiac Surg, in press.)
The increasing push for quality improvement coincides with the slowly growing use of surgical time out (STO) to lessen the likelihood of wrong-site operation. We believe that the use of STO as a reflective pause or a preoperative briefing has broader value. The purpose of this article is to describe one institution’s experience with this technique and to validate its potential use by others.
An enhanced use of STO was conducted in a 400-bed teaching hospital in calendar year 2006. Before and after conducts and constructs were rated.
The institution found the technique to be of value, and substantially clarified and improved its performances with respect to prophylactic antibiotic choice and timing; appropriate maintenance of intraoperative temperature and glycemia; and institution of secondary issues, such as maintenance of β-blockade and appropriate venous thromboembolism prophylaxis. Surgeon leadership and real-time data collection became essential and helpful components.
Prompt feedback to surgeons is vital; identification of future targets for performance improvement is feasible, although useless measures are eliminated. Because surgeons grapple with pay-for-performance, STO is a useful safety, data, and quality improvement tool.
Abbreviations and Acronyms: SCIP: Surgical Care Improvement Project; STO: surgical time out; VTE: venous thromboembolism.