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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2009 Jan;37(1):108-11.

A survey of anaesthetists' perspectives of communication in the operating suite.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


We surveyed 222 anaesthetists attending a University of Western Australia conference (n = 110) and two public hospitals in Perth (n = 112) by anonymous questionnaire in March 2006 regarding communication issues in the operating suite. Forty-one percent (n = 92) responded. Questions concerned communication skills, experiences of good and poor communication and relationship to outcome, attitudes to music and communication courses. Stress in anaesthetists due to poor communication, staff naming practices, information on courses with communication content attended and attitudes to non-verbal communication were also surveyed. Anaesthetists' communication skills were self-rated as "very good" by 52% and "average" by 39% of respondents. It was strongly agreed that good verbal communication leads to better patient outcome (57%) and was important between surgeons and anaesthetists (76%). Regarding the current state of surgeon/anaesthetist communication, 25% (23/92) agreed this was acceptable, 33% (30/92) were undecided and 42% (39/92) regarded this as poor. Silence in theatre was generally not desired, 71% preferring background music. Ninety-nine percent of respondents believed good communication decreased stress and 89% felt personally stressed in situations where poor communication occurred. Email/text communication was not preferred to spoken language regarding case information. Sixty-four percent of respondents would attend a communications course voluntarily, with implementation of a compulsory communications course supported by 45%. Most anaesthetists surveyed used staff first names and 94% believed poor communication caused procedural delay. The data suggest that further work is required to improve communication in the stressful operating room environment, particularly at the surgeon/anaesthetist interface.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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