Introductions During Time-outs: Do Surgical Team Members Know One Another's Names?

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2017 Jun;43(6):284-288. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2017.03.001. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


Background: Introductions are the first item of the time-out in the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC). It has yet to be established that surgical teams use colleagues' names or consider the use of names important. A study was conducted to determine if using the SSC has a measurable impact on name retention and to assess if operating room (OR) personnel believe it is important to know the names of their colleagues or for their colleagues to know theirs.

Methods: All OR personnel were individually interviewed at the end of 25 surgical cases in which the SSC was used. They were asked (1) to name each OR participant, and (2) if they believed it is important to know the names of their team members and (3) for their team members to know their name.

Results: Of the 150 OR personnel interviewed, 147 (98%) named the surgery attending correctly. The surgery attending named only 44% of other OR staff (p <0.001). Only 62% of the OR staff correctly named the anesthesiology attending. The anesthesiology resident was the least well known but was able to name 82% of the others. The anesthesiology attending named his or her resident 100% of the time; the surgery attending correctly named his or her resident only 68% of the time (p = 0.002).

Conclusion: This study suggests that OR personnel may consider introductions to be another bureaucratic hurdle instead of the safety check they were designed to be. It appears that this first step of the time-out is often being performed perfunctorily.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiologists / organization & administration
  • Anesthesiologists / psychology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Checklist / standards*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nurses / organization & administration
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Operating Rooms / standards
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Surgeons / organization & administration
  • Surgeons / psychology