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Training Medical Teams to Communicate Better During Operations

I'm Mario Ritter with the VOA Special English Health Report, from | No one wants a pilot to make a mistake. This is why flight crews are trained in teamwork and communication. Now a study finds hospitals that trained their operating room teams had a lower rate of surgical deaths than other hospitals. The study is in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It involved more than one hundred American hospitals for veterans. Some had taken part in a program of medical team training. Researcher Julia Neily, a Veterans Administration nurse, says the training seeks to empower each team member, including technicians. She says everyone in the operating room could bring up any concerns they had about the patient.And the more training, the better the chances that a patient would survive. Study co-author James Bagian is a Veterans Administration doctor. He says better communication improves teamwork. At first, some team members questioned the value of the communication training. But another new study shows how a lack of communication can lead to mistakes like operating on the wrong part of the body or the wrong patient. Since two thousand four, hospitals and surgical offices in the United States have had a "universal protocol." For example, they are supposed to mark the area to be operated on and perform a "time-out" immediately before the procedure. The study looked at records of a company that provides liability insurance to six thousand doctors in Colorado. The doctors reported twenty-five cases involving the wrong patient between two thousand two and two thousand eight. Five patients suffered serious harm. Surgeons and other doctors also reported one hundred seven cases involving the wrong site. More than one-third led to serious harm. One patient died. The researchers blamed most of the wrong-site cases on errors in judgment or a lack of a time-out. But they say errors in communication were at least one cause of all the patient mix-ups involving the wrong patient.Philip Stahel at the Denver Health Medical Center led the study in the Archives of Surgery. For VOA Special English, I'm Mario Ritter. You can find other Health Reports online at You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and iTunes at VOA Learning English. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 20Oct2010)
Length: 04:01


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