Back to overview

Managing nonroutine events in anesthesia: the role of adaptive coordination.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Burtscher Michael J, Wacker Johannes, Grote Gudela, Manser Tanja,
Project Adaptive coordination in anaesthesia teams and its relationship to clinical performance
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Human Factors
Volume (Issue) 52(2)
Page(s) 282 - 294
Title of proceedings Human Factors


OBJECTIVE This field study aimed at examining the role of anesthesia teams' adaptive coordination in managing changing situational demands, such as in nonroutine events (NREs). BACKGROUND Medical teams' ability to adapt their teamwork (e.g., their coordination activities) to changing situational demands is crucial to team performance and, thus, to patient safety. Whereas the majority of previous studies on the matter have focused on critical but rare events, it has recently been pointed out that the effective management of NREs is a key challenge to medical teams. Hence this study investigated the relationship between coordination activities, NRE occurrence, and team performance. METHOD We videotaped 22 anesthesia teams during standard anesthesia induction and recorded data from the vital signs monitor and the ventilator. Coordination was coded by a trained observer using a structured observation system. NREs were recorded by an experienced staff anesthesiologist using all three video streams. Checklist-based team performance assessment was also performed by an experienced staff anesthesiologist. RESULTS We found that anesthesia teams adapt their coordination activities to changing situational demands. In particular, the increased occurrence of NREs caused an increase in the time the teams spent on task management. A stronger increase in the teams' task management (i.e., more adaptive coordination) was related to their performance. CONCLUSION Our results emphasize the importance of adaptive coordination in managing NREs effectively. APPLICATION This study provides valuable information for developing novel team training programs in health care that focus on adaptation to changing task requirements, for example, when faced with NREs.