The Safe Surgery NZ programme aims to improve perioperative care by encouraging teams to consistently apply evidence-based practices and safety checks to all patients and by improving teamwork and communication.

Surgical team carrying out a briefing sessionIn 2014 the Health Quality & Safety Commission worked with Waikato and Lakes district health boards (DHBs) and Southern Cross' Auckland Surgical Centre on a proof of concept aimed at testing approaches to improve teamwork and communication in operating theatres.

The project tested the following evidence-based interventions and international approaches to reducing patient harm from surgery with public and private hospital surgical teams:

  • surgical team briefings
  • paperless surgical safety checklist
  • debriefings
  • supporting communication tools, such as ISBAR (identify, situation, background, assessment, recommendation) and closed loop feedback.

The proof of concept project reported an improvement in both the participants’ perception of their colleagues’ communication and collaboration skills, and on the overall culture of teamwork and communication from implementation of the recommended interventions. Theatre team members commented that the benefits of the proof of concept project included improved levels of teamwork, a more inclusive culture, improved communication and improved preparation for operations.

You can read more about the proof of concept project here, and in the project's final report.

The programme is rolling out surgical teamwork and communication interventions nationally in a staggered approach from 2015 to 2017. It is expected that private surgical hospitals will work with their local DHB to implement the interventions. Read more about the roll-out process.

The process quality and safety marker (QSM) was retired at the end of June 2015. A new process QSM will be introduced from 1 July 2016. It will look at how engaged teams are and use an observational audit methodology.


Last updated 11/05/2017