ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 136-139

Real-time observations of stressful events in the operating room


1 Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3 Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
AlNassar Sami
Department of Medical Education, Head, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery (37), College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 7805
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1658-354X.97026

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Aim: To identify and quantify factors causing stress in the operating room (OR) and evaluate the relationship between these factors and surgeons' stress level. Methods: This is a prospective observational study from 32 elective surgical procedures conducted in the OR of King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Before each operation, each surgeon was asked of stressors. Two interns observed 16 surgeries each, separately. The interns watched and took notes during the entire surgical procedure. During each operation, the observer recorded anxiety-inducing activities and events that occurred in real time by means of a checklist of 8 potential stressors: technical, patient problems, teamwork problems, time and management issues, distractions and interruptions, equipment problems, personal problems, and teaching. After each operation, surgeons were asked to answer the validated State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire and self-report on their stress level from the 8 sources using a scale of 1-8 (1: stress free, 8: extremely stressful). The observer also recorded perceived stress levels experienced by the surgeons during the operation. Results: One hundred ten stressors were identified. Technical problems most frequently caused stress (16.4%) and personal issues the least often (6.4%). Frequently encountered stressors (teaching and distractions/interruptions) caused less stress to the surgeons. Technical factors, teamwork, and equipment problems occurred frequently and were also a major contributor to OR stress. All patients were discharged in good health and within 1 week of surgery. Conclusion: Certain stressful factors do occur among surgeons in the OR and can increase the potential for errors. Further research is required to determine the impact of stress on performance and the outcome of surgery.


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