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.)
Background: 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.
Study design: 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.
Results: 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 beta-blockade and appropriate venous thromboembolism prophylaxis. Surgeon leadership and real-time data collection became essential and helpful components.
Conclusions: 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.