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Leading article: What can we do to improve individual and team situational awareness to benefit patient safety?

Authors
  • Brennan, P A1
  • Holden, C2
  • Shaw, G2
  • Morris, S3
  • Oeppen, R S4
  • 1 Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth PO6 3LY, UK. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Heathrow Airport, Middlesex TW6 1EW, UK.
  • 3 Red 5, The Red Arrows Acrobatic Team, RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire LN1 2ST, UK.
  • 4 Department of Clinical Radiology, University Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
The British journal of oral & maxillofacial surgery
Publication Date
May 01, 2020
Volume
58
Issue
4
Pages
404–408
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2020.01.030
PMID: 32115301
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

It is increasingly being recognised that human factors can contribute to error in complex safety systems. Healthcare, however, has a long way to go before the promotion of training in, and awareness of, human factors will catch up with other high-risk organisations. A critical component that is deemed essential both for improving clinical performance and reducing medical error is situational awareness (SA). This is dynamic and can reduce quickly or be lost entirely, particularly when the workload is heavy. Tunnel vision, in which healthcare professionals concentrate on a single aspect of a patient's care, is just one example of reduced awareness that can be detrimental to safety. As in aviation and other high-risk organisations, a reduction in SA, if not recognised by individuals or the wider team, can lead to serious or potentially fatal outcomes. We therefore give an overview of SA and show how it can easily be reduced. We also suggest some simple but effective ways to improve it and in turn improve patient safety. We emphasise the importance of clinical teams looking out for each other, particularly in the operating theatre. Copyright © 2020 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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