Healthcare teams defined by interdependent activities rely on coordination through timely information sharing. Surgical teamwork is especially vital to patient safety and overall quality of care. This study analyzed communication patterns in the operating room as a means of exploring teamwork processes in complex, cross- disciplinary environments. Using ethnographic methods of data collection, we observed 25 healthcare workers throughout 15 thoracic procedures at a large hospital in eastern Ontario. We classified 1506 utterances by speaker and receiver, and analyzed them as a function various surgical contexts. Results showed that the staff surgeon was the ‘hub’ of most information exchanges. High complexity procedures (i.e., more invasive, longer duration, and rated more difficult by the staff) tended to exhibit more team communication, while teamwork in complex environments. Specifically, communication analysis can be used to understand team activity through patterns of information flow.
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