How to ensure success when standardizing procedures

Surgical Standards; Standardization,; SOPs, Surgery, Nodus Medical

We have spoken with countless senior surgeons who are convinced that standardization is the key to higher patient safety and efficiency. There is no lack of evidence supporting the need for higher standardization. Having a standard safety checklist before a surgical procedure has been proven to significantly reduce complications and mortality1. If we look to other industries such as aviation or high-tech manufacturing, standardization has been used successfully to achieve higher quality and higher efficiency alike.

While hospitals have standardized many processes before and after a surgery, the operation itself has mostly been untouched. Only few hospitals have successfully standardized intra-operative procedures. If they have any form of written surgical procedures at all, adherence is often low. The reason is not that standardization does not work but that it has been done the wrong way.

Based on our discussions with healthcare professionals, we have found four common obstacles when hospitals tried standardizing intra-operative procedures:

  1. Standard procedures were “prescribed” with little content ownership taken from the surgeons who should work with them
  2. Standard procedures were detached from surgical training
  3. Standard procedures were too rigid to account for individual patients’ unique health issues
  4. Standard procedures were never accessible in the operating room

This has made many standardization efforts frustrating at best and unfeasible at worst. Our experience working with surgeons has shown that standardization works but it must be done in a smart way. This means that standards in surgery should be…

…developed by the surgical team that uses them

…integrated into residents’ training

…flexible to allow for patient-specific tailoring

…brought into the operating room on a screen for everyone to see

At Nodus we have integrated this approach into our software. If you want to learn more, you can request a free demo here – no strings attached.

[1] NEJM (2009), A Surgical Safety Checklist to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in a Global Population