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Research suggests mixed teams could prevent surgical errors

Teamwork between co-workers is important in any workplace, but it can be particularly critical in a life or death situation. That's why one researcher is looking into how group dynamics may influence the incidence of surgical errors in American hospitals. This research may be useful for hospitals in Delaware and throughout the United States to improve communication and effectiveness in surgical rooms.

The researchers were animal behavioral experts who observed interactions between 400 medical professionals during 200 operations. They logged non-technical communications between people in the rooms, classifying them as co-operative, neutral and conflictive. The result was that surgical teams that were mixed between people of different genders had better outcomes than those who did not. The animal behaviorists posited that this was likely due to the mixed group having less dominance and competition issues.

The groups that experienced the most conflict were teams with a male lead and predominantly male staff. Similar teams led by women had about half the likelihood of conflict. In female teams, there was no difference regardless of leader. Additionally, teams had more collaborative communication when the leader was the opposite gender of the underlings.

This data could be important, as previous research has shown that the majority of surgical errors occur due to issues in interactions between those present. The researchers suggest that, by mixing and matching teams more effectively, this communication could be improved. Maintaining a collaborative environment is critical for the success of medical operations. Those in Delaware who have been the victim of surgical errors caused by miscommunication or malpractice among surgeons and staff should speak with a lawyer about their options for restitution.

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