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How transforming theatres can improve patient care
Improving quality and efficiency in operating theatres throughout Wales is at the heart of a current area of work being taken forward as part of the 1000 Lives Plus programme and the Delivery and Support Unit, which is linked to the Welsh Government’s Annual Quality Framework.
Operating theatres play a central role in the delivery of care in NHS Wales today. In them the most basic and complex surgical procedures take place, bringing together the clinical expertise and resources to provide the best outcome for patients.
And with around three million surgical operations performed in the UK every year, it’s essential that theatres are running as efficiently as possible – benefitting patients, maintaining staff morale and reducing waste.
The work is integral to the 1000 Lives Plus national programme and the Welsh Government’s quality priorities in supporting organisations and professionals to deliver the highest quality and safest care for the people of Wales.
The focus on ‘Transforming Theatres’ will maximise the use of operating theatres and surgery sessions, while ensuring that the way they are run does not compromise safety. It is being run by the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare, one of the partner organisations of 1000 Lives Plus.
In addition, the Delivery and Support Unit are working closely with selected orthopaedic theatre teams to improve turn-around times between theatre cases. The culmination of excellent work with the Llandough orthopaedic team has led to the development of an operating theatre monitoring tool.
Both initiatives are led and designed by theatre staff themselves. Those involved in this area of care are analysing ways to improve team interaction and defining the factors that are important to create a ‘perfect operating day’.
Those factors include emphasising issues such as improved communication and planning, greater efficiency, and a better theatre environment.
This has involved a range of measures including more surgical briefings for team members, improvements in pain control, and better management of theatre stocks and stores which has in turn led to cleaner, less cluttered theatres and theatre corridors.
The work of the Delivery and Support Unit will encourage regular analysis of relevant data to inform improvement decisions.
Transforming Theatres is also building on work to make surgery safer and includes the use of the World Health Organization’s Safer Surgery Checklist.
The procedure checks the patient’s identity, the correct site for operation, ensuring all necessary equipment is available and providing an opportunity for discussing any complications that may arise. Potential risks such as haemorrhage, reaction to antibiotics and allergies are also highlighted.
Patients will see the benefit as surgery becomes even safer, with staff applying proven tools, techniques and methods to improve the process – ensuring that patient safety and the quality of care are at the forefront of all that they do.
The vision for ‘transformed theatres’ will provide a template that eventually every operating theatre can implement.
The approach will help staff have a clearer focus on a number of areas, which will include implementing the safer surgery checklist and identifying potential issues.
This improved efficiency will ensure patients have their operation on time and reduce inconvenience from cancellations.
It will also look at such issues as timing of operations, improving pre-operative assessments and best practice in recovery wards, so that people can return home sooner after surgery.
These initiatives have the potential to revolutionise the way operating theatres deliver care whilst ensuring the best outcome for our patients.
Jan Davies is a director of 1000 Lives Plus
Originally published in the Western Mail 22 August 2011
Last updated: 31/08/2011