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Br J Anaesth. 2011 Jun;106(6):801-6. doi: 10.1093/bja/aer039. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Adaptation in anaesthesia team coordination in response to a simulated critical event and its relationship to clinical performance.

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ETH Zurich, Center for Organizational and Occupational Sciences, or Organization, Work, and Technology Group, Kreuzplatz 5, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.



Recent studies in anaesthesia and intensive care indicate that a team's ability to adapt its coordination activities to changing situational demands is crucial for effective teamwork and thus, safe patient care. This study addresses the relationship between adaptation of team coordination and markers of clinical performance in response to a critical event, particularly regarding which types of coordination activities are used and which team member engages in those coordination activities.


Video recordings of 15 two-person anaesthesia teams (anaesthesia trainee plus anaesthesia nurse) performing a simulated induction of general anaesthesia were coded, using a structured observation system for coordination activities. The simulation involved a critical event-asystole during laryngoscopy. Clinical performance was assessed using two separate reaction times related to the critical event.


Analyses of variance revealed a significant effect of the critical event on team coordination: after the occurrence of the asystole, team members adapted their coordination activities by spending more time on information management-a specific type of coordination activity (F(1,28)=15.17, P=0.001). No significant effect was found for task management. The increase in information management was related to faster decisions regarding how to respond to the critical event, but only for trainees and not for nurses.


Our findings support the claim that adaptation of coordination activities is related to improved team performance in healthcare. Moreover, adaptation and its relationship to team performance were found to vary with regard to type of coordination activities and team member.

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