Distractions in the Anesthesia Work Environment: Impact on Patient Safety? Report of a Meeting Sponsored by the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation

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Distractions in the perioperative work environment can adversely affect vigilance, situation awareness, and the ability to respond promptly to changes in the patient’s condition and pose a risk to patient safety. The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) believes that the role of all types of distractions, and their potential adverse effects, needs to be addressed through open discussion, education, research, policy, and possibly other interventions. To make progress in this area, APSF convened a conference entitled “Distractions in the Anesthesia Work Environment: Impact on Patient Safety” in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 7, 2016, comoderated by the authors. Robert Stoelting, APSF immediate past president, welcomed over 100 participants who represented anesthesia professionals, surgeons, operating room (OR) and perioperative nurses, the nuclear power and surface transportation industries, and risk management. The goals of the conference were to (1) delineate the most important types of external and self-induced distractions occurring in anesthesia professionals’ different work environments, (2) identify those distractions most likely to pose patient safety risks (ie, high-risk distractions), and (3) develop recommendations for decreasing the incidence of high-risk distractions and to reduce the risk to patient safety when distractions of all types occur.

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