Sydney based anesthetist Dr. Rob Hackett’s colleagues thought he was a little strange, a little bit off for his decision.
Little did they know that his “awkward” decision to write his name and profession across the top of his scrub hat would lead to some beneficial safety changes in the world of medicine.
“There were some side remarks, like ‘can’t you remember your name?'” Hackett told Daily Mail.
Though it’s a small measure, Hackett says it helps to reduce the chance of delays and misidentification between colleagues who are wearing surgical scrubs in the operating room since their faces are often hidden behind masks.
“When you work across four or five hospitals and with hundreds of people, I’d say 75 per cent of staff I walk past I dont know their name,” he explains to the Syndey Morning Herald. “It’s quite awkward.”
Critical seconds or even minutes can be missed when clincians can’t identify each other by name in the operating room, also referred to as the operating theater.
Hackett said he’s witnessed delays in chest compressions because those in the operating room didn’t know who the clinician asked to initiate the compressions were since no one was refereed to by name.
Others told him that they’ve seen medical students mistaken for registrars who were asked to complete procedures.
“Last Friday I went to a cardiac arrest in a theatre where there were about 20 people in the room,” he explained. “I struggled to even ask to be passed some gloves because the person I was pointing to thought I was pointing to the person behind them. It’s so much easier to coordinate when you know everyone’s names. It’s great for camaraderie and it’s great for patients as well.”
John Hopkins University researchers found that medical error is the third leading cause of death.
Hackett says though it’s a “simple intervention” it’s worth it to keep patients safe, regardless of whether people think it’s silly or not. Apparently, medical professionals around the world agreed. Six months after implementing the measure, others around the world have followed suit.
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They’ve posted photos of themselves with their names scrawled on their caps on social media with the hashtag #TheatreCapChallenge.
Not only does the measure help improve patient safety, but doctors and medical staff say that are having fun with the challenge.
“Anything that increases safety for patients in operating theatres is a good thing,” Executive Director Surgical Affairs at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons Dr. John Quinn said.
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