Improving care in surgery – a qualitative study of managers’ experiences of implementing evidence-based practice in the operating room

Annette Erichsen Andersson, Wendy Gifford, Kerstin Nilsson


Background: More knowledge is needed on the preconditions and circumstances for leading implementation of evidence based practice in the operating room (OR). Effective leadership support is critical to enhance the provision of safer care. The aim of this study was to explore managers’ and clinical leaders’ experiences of implementing evidence-based practice to increase patient safety in the operating room.
Methods: The study had a qualitative descriptive design. In all, 25 managers were interviewed, with different surgical specialities (orthopedics, general and pediatric surgery) and operating room suites, from eight hospitals and 15 departments.
Results: The organizational structures were defined as key obstacles to implementation. Specifically, lack of a common platform for cooperation between managers from different departments, organizational levels and professional groups impeded the alignment of shared goals and directions. In cases where implementation was successful, well-functioning and supportive relationships between the managers from different professions and levels were crucial along with a strong sense of ownership and control over the implementation process. Whilst managers expressed the conviction that safety was an important issue that was supported by top management, the goal was usually to “get through” as many operations as possible. This created conflicts between either prioritizing implementation of safety measures or production goals, which sometimes led to decisions that were counter to evidence-based practice (EBP). While evidence was considered crucial in all implementation efforts, it might be neglected and mistrusted if hierarchical boundaries between professional subgroups were challenged, or if it concerned preventive innovations as opposed to technical innovations.
Conclusions: The preconditions for implementing EBP in the OR are suboptimal; thus addressing leadership, organizational and interprofessional barriers are of vital importance.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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