High-tech surgery training pilot rolls out

The pilot was funded by Health Workforce NZ
The pilot was funded by Health Workforce NZ

Each year patients suffer 1560 treatment injuries, including having the wrong surgery carried out, having objects left in them after an operation, infections and thrombosis.

It costs ACC an average of $10.2 million each year.

But a new training pilot, developed by researchers at the University of Auckland, is being rolled out to district health boards to help reduce the number of injuries.

It's the first such model for improving operating room teamwork, and involves a fully equipped operating theatre and computerised mannequin, which can be controlled to create different surgical scenarios.

"About 10 percent of patients in hospital around the world have an event that's less than optimal, that causes some harm," says lead researcher and specialist anaesthetist, Associate Professor Jennifer Weller.

"We don't want to hurt people, so obviously all doctors, all nurses and all operating room staff are interested in doing the best for their patients so the whole of this is to try and improve treatment and reduce potential harm."

The pilot was funded by Health Workforce NZ, and ACC is investing $9.6 million to fund the training project into all district health boards over the next five years.

In an editorial published on Friday in the New Zealand Medical Journal, head of surgery at the University of Auckland Professor Ian Bissett says one of the concerns raised in the pilot was that none of the participating surgeons reported using new communication strategies.

"In general, we surgeons see ourselves as the leaders of the operating room teams, deciding who needs surgery and putting the patients on the lists," he says.

"We, as surgeons, need to recognise that we may not be as good at communication as we think that we are.

"If it can be demonstrated that this is a matter of patient safety, one hopes it will stimulate us to be more engaged in the whole process."

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