3 Thoughts on Collaboration Between ORs and Other Hospital Departments with LifePoint’s Pam Booker

November 9, 2011

By Sabrina Rodak
Becker’s Hospital Review

One way to improve efficiency in a hospital is to break down silos and encourage more collaboration between departments. The operating room is forced to interact with other departments because of the need for lab work, anesthesia and other resources. The following three responses explain how a hospital OR can work with these other departments to improve efficiency.

Q: How can a hospital OR work with other departments to improve efficiency?

Pamela Booker, MSN, RN, CNOR, Division Chief Nursing Officer, Continental Division, LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn.: In the past, the OR was seen as an island. No one knew what happened behind those doors. They required no one’s help, so we thought. Ironically, the opposite is true. The OR depends on collaboration with many other departments to provide quality care to its patients. How well the ancillary departments (lab, radiology, etc.) run can determine how efficient the OR runs.

For example, the patient enters the process through registration/admissions. If the registration process is not performed proficiently, delays occur at the very beginning of the patient’s visit. The patient arrives to pre-op late, thus arriving to the OR late [and] delaying the case start time, then delaying the next patient, and so on. This also disrupts the physicians’ practices. Delays in surgery cause delays in their clinic practices resulting in late patient visits. A huge domino effect occurs. The key component is communication and collaboration with all involved departments. It takes the work of many together to provide excellent care to the patient.

Clark Lagemann, Vice President, Health Options Worldwide: If operating room management fails, a domino effect will follow because departments in the hospital are interrelated. If OR management is extensively performed ahead of time, doctors’ and nurses’ work will be efficient because they only have to think of their patient and no distractions will come in their way. If management is poor, then the medical staff will waste energy and resources to rush on cases or [follow] ill-written schedules, thus compromising attention to patient safety. Working together as a team would bring a lot of benefits and prevent unacceptable errors.

Joe Smith, Vice President of Perioperative Strategy, Optum: One area that many hospitals still struggle with is making sure patients are effectively evaluated and prepared for surgery. The preoperative evaluation process for surgical readiness is one where many hospitals still rely on a manual process and where ORs can work with other areas of the hospital to improve outcomes while reducing costs. Surgery can be tied to hospital-acquired infections, which are dangerous and costly to treat. Assuring that patients arrive on time and ready and that preoperative diagnostic testing is ordered efficiently and appropriately and avoiding unnecessary testing can all lead to improvement.