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Doctors are now writing their names on scrub caps to decrease human error in healthcare

People undergoing cesarean sections could benefit greatly from the reassurance of knowing the names and designations of every staff member surrounding them as they give birth.

Doctors are now writing their names on scrub caps to decrease human error in healthcare
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Rob Hackett

When Australian anesthetist Dr. Rob Hackett first decided to wear a scrub cap with his name and role written on it, his colleagues had a hard time taking him seriously. However, in a year's time, doctors across the globe were wearing similar scrub caps signifying their identities and the trend has drastically helped reduce human errors in hospitals. Wanting to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring patient safety and how simple changes can go a long way, medical professionals from around the world are tweeting selfies with their own caps and showing their support and involvement in this movement.



 

 

"The #TheatreCapChallenge is an initiative from the PatientSafe Network in response to concerns about how easily avoidable mistakes and poor communication are contributing to rising adverse events for our patients. It has been adopted around the world with studies from the US and UK demonstrating how this simple idea can decrease human errors in healthcare," Dr. Hackett told Bored Panda, adding that he'd initially had to face some snide comments from his colleagues asking if whether he had trouble remembering his own name.



 

 

Explaining why having the hospital staff's name displayed on scrub caps can save vital seconds in life and death situations, Dr. Hackett said, "I went to a cardiac arrest in a theatre where there were about 20 people in the room. I struggled to even ask to be passed some gloves because the person I was pointing to thought I was pointing to the person behind them. It’s so much easier to coordinate when you know everyone’s names. It’s great for camaraderie and it’s great for patients as well."



 

 

With the #TheatreCapChallenge taking off across the globe, more and more medical professionals are vouching for how simply having your name on scrub caps reduces delays and misidentification which occur when clinicians fail to recognize or remember the names of their colleagues in the operating theatres.



 

 

"It’s been great interacting with a networked team of passionate individuals from all over the world. They’re constantly generating data. UK studies have shown increased name recall amongst staff from 42 to 85%, increased name and role introductions during the surgical safety checklist from 38 to 90%. Simulation studies at Stanford University in the US demonstrated greatly increased communication and theatre efficiency," said Dr. Hackett.



 

 



 

 



 

 

In fact, there are quite a few benefits to making this simple change in the operating theatres. Women undergoing cesarean sections could benefit greatly from the reassurance of knowing the names and designations of every staff member surrounding them as they give birth. Furthermore, switching to reusable caps could also have substantial environmental benefits. "A 20-theatre hospital will discard over 100,000 disposable caps every year. The caps are made from viscose – a substance whose production is particularly harmful to the environment."



 

 



 

 



 

 

Also, when considering the financial aspect of this switch, hospitals stand to benefit greatly from adopting reusing caps. "A hospital this size may spend somewhere in the region of $10,000 every year on disposable caps." Although the World Health Organisation’s surgical safety checklist dictates that all staff inside operating theatres introduce themselves prior to surgery, Dr. Hackett admits that this protocol isn't always followed. "When it’s done properly there are a few giggles from people, which tells me it’s not done regularly," he said.



 

 



 

 



 

 

As with any change, the scrub cap switch has also faced some pushback which Dr. Hackett revealed has mostly been from the senior hospital staff. "Cognitive dissonance [is one of the challenges] that #TheatreCapChallenge has faced. It’s most likely to affect those who feel defined by their decisions often those further up the chain of command – in accepting change they’ll need to accept that what was happening previously, on their watch as it were, was not as good. Within healthcare, this may mean we have to accept we’ve been hurting people, even killing people for years – often this can be too hard to bear," he said.



 

 



 

 



 

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