Non-technical skills and device-related interruptions in minimally invasive surgery

Surg Endosc. 2021 Aug;35(8):4494-4500. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-07962-1. Epub 2020 Sep 4.


Background: Device-related interruptions in the operating room (OR) may create stress among health care providers and delays. Although non-technical skills (NTS) of the OR teams, such as situational awareness and communication, are expected to influence device-related interruptions, empirical data on this relationship are limited.

Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of 144 consecutive elective laparoscopic operations during 13 months. A data capture system called the OR Black Box® was used to characterize device-related interruptions, NTS, and distractions. Device-related interruptions were classified according to a priori established categories. Positive and negative NTS instances were identified according to validated measurement tools specific for nurses and surgeons. We assessed the relationship between NTS and device-related interruptions after adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: A total of 86 device-related interruptions occurred in 48 of 144 operations (33%). They were most frequently classified as device failure (54%) followed by improper assembly (19%) and disconnection (14%). Medians of 1 [interquartile range (IQR) 0-3] and 1 (IQR 0-2) negative NTS instance per operation were demonstrated by nurses and surgeons, respectively. Medians of 28 (IQR 15-38) and 40 (IQR 28-118) positive NTS instances per operation were demonstrated by nurses and surgeons. In a multivariable analysis, a higher frequency of negative NTS instances demonstrated by nurses was associated with device-related interruptions after risk adjustment (Odds Ratio 1.33, p = 0.02).

Conclusions: In elective laparoscopic operations, an increased likelihood of device-related interruptions in the OR was associated with more frequent negative NTS demonstrations by nursing teams.

Keywords: Device interruptions; Interruption; Non-technical skills; Surgery; Surgical safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgeons*