Published 4/12/2017

Surgical team members need emotional intelligence, adaptability to prevent adverse events

JAMA article highlights recommendations from National Surgical Patient Safety Summit

ROSEMONT, Ill. (April 12, 2017) — With up to 50 percent of adverse events occurring among surgical patients, non-technical skills — emotional intelligence, mindfulness, adaptability and resourcefulness — are critical traits for surgeon health team leaders to prevent adverse events, according to a “viewpoint” article appearing in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Surgery.
“Safety for the Surgical Patient—What Will ‘Move the Needle?’” recaps the recommendations of the first National Surgical Patient Safety Summit (NSPSS). The two-day event, co-hosted by the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, included more than 100 representatives from medical professional associations, insurers, health care systems, payers, and government agencies. The American Society of Anesthesiology and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses are new partners. The goal of the event, held August 4-5, 2016, was to develop surgical care and education curricula standards, and to prioritize safety research efforts.
“Safety is an emergent property of competent care, a product of the resilience and adaptability of teams of professionals versed in human factors, safety science and team work,” according to the article authors, Dwight W. Burney III, MD, a member of the AAOS Patient Safety Committee, and David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons. “The need for enlightened leadership of safe surgical teams has never been greater,” the authors said.
At NSPSS, workgroups, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, drafted recommendations for all surgical team members, surgical institutions, medical and nursing schools, surgical residency and fellowship programs, and surgical credentialing organizations. The recommendations, outlined in the JAMA article, include the creation and adoption of standardized:
  • Definitions and patient-centered processes used by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Programs to ensure individual wellness for surgical caregivers of all professions to ensure personal and team resilience and adaptability
  • Databases related to surgical adverse events
  • Education in the non-technical skills of leadership, communication, and teamwork, especially in evaluations required for graduation, completing a residency, board certification, and the licensing and granting of surgical privileges
These recommendations will be used to finalize National Surgical Patient Safety Standards, develop surgical safety education curriculum proposals, and to identify surgical safety knowledge gaps and research priorities.
About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.
About The American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit
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Deanna Killackey 


Lauren Riley