The 'time-out' procedure: an institutional ethnography of how it is conducted in actual clinical practice

Braaf, Sandra, Manias, Elizabeth and Riley, Robin 2013, The 'time-out' procedure: an institutional ethnography of how it is conducted in actual clinical practice, BMJ Quality & safety, vol. 22, no. 8, pp. 647-655, doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001702.

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Title The 'time-out' procedure: an institutional ethnography of how it is conducted in actual clinical practice
Author(s) Braaf, Sandra
Manias, ElizabethORCID iD for Manias, Elizabeth
Riley, Robin
Journal name BMJ Quality & safety
Volume number 22
Issue number 8
Start page 647
End page 655
Total pages 9
Publisher BMJ Group
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2013-08
ISSN 2044-5415
Keyword(s) Communication
Qualitative research
Safety culture
Focus Groups
General Surgery
Guideline Adherence
Interdisciplinary Communication
Medical Errors
Middle Aged
Operating Room Nursing
Operating Rooms
Organizational Policy
Patient Safety
Young Adult
Summary BACKGROUND: The time-out procedure is a critically important communication interaction for the preservation of patient safety in the surgical setting. While previous research has examined influences shaping the time-out procedure, limited information exists on how actual time-out communication is performed by multidisciplinary surgical team members in the clinical environment.
METHODS: An institutional ethnographic study was undertaken. The study was conducted over three hospital sites in Melbourne, Australia. In total, 125 healthcare professionals from the disciplines of surgery, anaesthesia and nursing participated in the study. Data were generated through 350 h of observation, two focus groups and 20 semi-structured interviews. An institutional ethnographic analysis was undertaken.
RESULTS: Analysis revealed healthcare professionals adapted the content, timing and number of team members involved in the time-out procedure to meet the demands of the theatre environment. Habitually, the time-out procedure was partially completed, conducted after surgery had commenced and involved only a few members of the surgical team. Communication was restricted and stifled by asynchronous workflows, time restrictions, a hierarchical culture and disinclination by surgeons and anaesthetists to volunteer information and openly communicate with each other and nurses. Healthcare professionals became normalised to performing an abbreviated time-out procedure.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient safety was relegated in importance as productivity, professional and hierarchical discourses configured the communication practices of surgical team members to limit active, open and direct communication. Examining how the time-out procedure was conducted in the clinical environment enables possibilities to emerge for facilitating compliance with hospital and WHO guidelines.
Language eng
DOI 10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001702
Field of Research 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2013, BMJ Publishing Group
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