"Who's on the team today?" The status of briefing amongst operating theatre practitioners in one UK hospital

J Interprof Care. 2007 Mar;21(2):189-206. doi: 10.1080/13561820601160042.


Accidents in health care are mainly due to systemic communication errors. Errors occur more frequently in the operating theatre (OT) than other clinical settings. Hence, it is important that preventive communication practices are adopted in OT teams. Formal team pre-briefing has been shown to improve safety in high risk settings such as aviation, but such briefing is not common practice in OT teams. This paper reviews key literature demonstrating the value of briefing in high-risk practices; presents and analyses the results of a questionnaire survey on the status of briefing after its introduction to OT teams in one UK hospital; and analyses processes that frustrate widespread adoption of briefing. In comparison with other OT practitioners, surgeons generally reported differing perceptions of the meaning and value of briefing, often holding broad notions of what constitutes a "brief", but also showing scepticism towards briefing. However, surgeons who had introduced briefing reported positive results such as greater efficiency, shared understanding, and increased team morale. Collaborative briefing that extends beyond the technical to include the interpersonal could be initiated in principle by any member of the OT team, but a number of factors inhibit this, and surgeons play a pivotal role in establishing briefing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication*
  • Health Personnel / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom