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J Interprof Care. 2018 Oct 18:1-13. doi: 10.1080/13561820.2018.1536041. [Epub ahead of print]

Seeing what works: identifying and enhancing successful interprofessional collaboration between pathology and surgery.

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a School of Sociology , Australian National University , Canberra , ACT , Australia.
b Department of Technology and Society Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences , Maastricht University , Maastricht , The Netherlands.
c Center for Pharmacy Innovation , Geisinger Health System , Pennsylvania , USA.
d Department of Surgery , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , Minnesota , USA.
e Department of Pathology , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.
f Department of Health Sciences Research , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.


Utilising frozen section technologies, Mayo Clinic has one of the lowest reoperation rates for breast lumpectomy in the United States. The research reported on sought to understand the successful teamwork between the Breast Surgery Team and the Frozen Section Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. Researchers worked collaboratively with healthcare staff from breast surgery and the frozen section pathology laboratory to identify communication styles and strategies that contribute to the timely and accurate intraoperative evaluation of breast cancer specimens. Using the video-reflexive ethnography (VRE) methodology underpinned by a positive theoretical approach to researching quality and safety in healthcare, the researchers video-recorded the communications associated with specimen resections in surgery and the subsequent pathology diagnoses. Then, 57 staff from the breast surgery and frozen section laboratory teams attended video-reflexivity sessions to collaboratively analyse their communication practices and identify opportunities to optimize interprofessional communication. In this article, we focus on how the flexible, interdisciplinary, and cross-hierarchical communication within the frozen section laboratory supports a rapid and accurate intraoperative evaluation and communication, previously conceptualized by staff as being performed in a linear fashion. Moreover, we detail how the VRE methodology led surgeons and pathologists to implement new strategies and optimize their interprofessional communication.


Video-reflexive ethnography; collaboration; interprofessional; pathology; positive; surgery

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