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What can surgery learn from other high-performance disciplines?

OPEN Annals of medicine and surgery (2012) | 25 Jun 2020

J O'Logbon
High-performance disciplines have always been concerned with safety and exceptional performance. They have established a culture of vigilance and accepted that human error is both inevitable and ubiquitous. These disciplines, therefore, have all implemented a ‘systems approach’ to error by focusing on predicting, preventing, rescuing and reporting errors that occur so that they can constantly adapt and improve. Given the complexity of surgery, and the error-prone environment within which it takes place, extracting positive behaviours from other high-performance disciplines will serve to improve performance and enhance patient safety. Surgery is being practiced in an ever-changing environment. Currently, there is less available operative experience for surgical trainees; multi-morbidity in patients is growing and rapidly evolving technology means that more high-tech equipment is being used in procedures. This article evaluates the effectiveness of current surgical protocol in reducing errors and possible modifications that can be made to fit the new environment that surgery is now being practiced in. It will then describe how three different high-performance disciplines: aviation, professional sport and Formula 1, have developed in their approaches to safety and excellence, which will serve as the basis for a discussion about what more can be learnt from these disciplines so that the surgical profession can continue to excel in the face of change.
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