Safe eye surgery: non-technical aspects

A Azuara-Blanco, A Reddy, G Wilkinson, R Flin
Eye 2011, 25 (9): 1109-11
The traditional training of surgeons focused exclusively on developing knowledge, clinical expertise, and technical (surgical) skills. However, analyses of the reasons for adverse events in surgery have revealed that many underlying causes originate from behavioural or non-technical aspects of performance (eg, poor communication among members of the surgical team) rather than from a lack of surgical (ie, technical) skills. Therefore, technical skills appear to be necessary but not sufficient to ensure patient safety. Paying attention to non-technical skills, such as team working, leadership, situation awareness, decision making, and communication, will increase the likelihood of maintaining high levels of error-free performance. Identification and training of non-technical skills has been developed for high-risk careers, such as civil aviation and nuclear power. Only recently, training in non-technical skills has been adopted by the surgical world and anaesthetists. Non-technical skills need to be tailored to the environment where they are used, and eye surgery has some substantial differences compared with other surgical areas, for example, high volume of surgery, use of local anaesthetics, and very sophisticated equipment. This review highlights the need for identification of the non-technical skills relevant to eye surgeons and promotion of their use in the training of eye surgeons.

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