Objective: Non-technical skills are cognitive and social skills required in an operational task. These skills have been identified and taught in the surgical domain but are of particular relevance to obstetrics where the patient is awake, the partner is present and the clinical circumstances are acute and often stressful. The aim of this study was to define the non-technical skills of an operative vaginal delivery (forceps or vacuum) to facilitate transfer of skills from expert obstetricians to trainee obstetricians.
Study design: Qualitative study using interviews and video recordings. The study was conducted at two university teaching hospitals (St. Michael's Hospital, Bristol and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee). Participants included 10 obstetricians and eight midwives identified as experts in conducting or supporting operative vaginal deliveries. Semi-structured interviews were carried out using routine clinical scenarios. The experts were also video recorded conducting forceps and vacuum deliveries in a simulation setting. The interviews and video recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic coding. The anonymised data were independently coded by the three researchers and then compared for consistency of interpretation. The experts reviewed the coded data for respondent validation and clarification. The themes that emerged were used to identify the non-technical skills required for conducting an operative vaginal delivery.
Results: The final skills list was classified into seven main categories. Four categories (situational awareness, decision making, task management, and team work and communication) were similar to the categories identified in surgery. Three further categories unique to obstetrics were also identified (professional relationship with the woman, maintaining professional behaviour and cross-monitoring of performance).
Conclusion: This explicitly defined skills taxonomy could aid trainees' understanding of the non-technical skills to be considered when conducting an operative vaginal delivery and potentially reduce morbidity and improve the experience of delivery for the mother.
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