Serious fun: Robot Olympics helps surgical teams to hone their teamwork skills
Robots are being used more and more frequently in the operating room, not to replace surgeons but to improve both their precision and their vision of the surgical field.
With robotic surgery, cameras provide the surgeon, seated separately at a console across the room from the surgical team, a close-up view of the action as he or she carefully guides the robot’s movements. For all of its merits, however, this revolutionary technology puts the surgeon at some distance from the surgical team, making interactions between the two difficult. This separation can pose a challenge to effective teamwork.
Training for surgeons on how to conduct robotic surgery is robust. However, little training has been available to members of the surgical team who need to adapt to this new environment.
“We train up surgeons very effectively and very rigorously to use the robots to perform the surgeries,” said Kenneth Catchpole, Ph.D., the S.C. SmartState Endowed Chair in Clinical Practice and Human Factors at MUSC and co-director of the Team Science program at the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute. “However, we don’t always train our staff as rigorously in all the things that they need to do to support the robotic surgery.”
With funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Catchpole and Jennifer Anger, M.D., a urologic surgeon at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, co-led a study that showed that incorporating “serious games” into this type of training can be an effective and engaging way to teach teamwork and other skills to busy robotic surgery teams. Their findings are published in the Journal of Patient Safety.