Creating a Safer Operating Room for Open Heart Surgery

Raised of $3,200 Goal
Ended on 3/14/15
Campaign Ended
  • $613
  • 20%
  • Finished
    on 3/14/15

About This Project

There are almost 500,000 open-heart surgeries performed ayear. Of these surgeries almost 100,000 lives are lost due to preventable error. Knowing where the pitfalls of communication, coordination and cooperation exist within the operating room we will be able to offer recommendations to hospitals and surgical teams to decrease interruptions and increase efficiency.

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What is the context of this research?

It is estimated that close to 100, 000 lives are lost a year due to teamwork complications within the cardiovascular operating room. These lives are lost due to preventable errors which could have been avoided.

This research project concentrates on interruptions inside the operating room that can create environments of error. Previous research has shown that there are ways to capture these interruptions and categorize them so that hospitals and surgical teams can be educated as to where to allocate resources to improve the atmosphere and teamwork during surgery, all for the goal of improving patient safety.

What is the significance of this project?

The healthcare system sometimes follows outdated rules or protocols without reason. The healthcare industry must be driven by empirical data. Using a data driven approach demands that medical professionals follow the best strategies for patient care. Research which can provide concrete evidence for the implementation of rules, regulations, and protocol can increase efficiency and patient safety. An open heart surgery can last from 3-7 hours long. Theory suggests that the longer a patient is under anesthesia and/or on bypass (meaning the heart is stopped) the more difficult it is for the patient to recover. Interuptions prolong this time period. This research wants to uncover those interputions and provide solutions to reduce the window of opportunity for error.

What are the goals of the project?

The immediate goal of the research is to collect data from different hospitals across the nation. From this data, our team will confer with the hospitals and surgical teams to make recommendations as to how to improve efficiency and patient safety inside their surgical suites. Additionally, our team will be publishing multiple papers addressing the interruptions and possible solutions to implement in the Cardiovascular Operating Room to multiple journals


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Without funding, students must face the difficult choice between pursuing research opportunities and a part time job. By paying students for their time dedicated to research, it relieves financial stress and provides students with experience in research.

This is especially important for undergraduate students that wish to pursue graduate level education. Their involvement in research is key to acceptance to a graduate program as well as connecting with future job opportunities.

Lastly, the research is worth nothing if it is not presented and the information shared with the community. By publishing and sharing this research, we can hope to continue creating better and more effect cardiac operating teams.

Meet the Team

Kristen Welsh
Kristen Welsh

Team Bio

Kristen's interest in communication stems from her early childhood experience of stuttering and speech therapy. "Communication is the one thing that every human can admit needing a little help in. No one can communicate perfectly. I can't, but I strive to do it better every day," she says. Growing up in North Carolina, her mother would take her to different health departments and hospitals, sharing stories of the emergency room. Kristen was fascinated by the medical field. After witnessing first-hand the frustration of coordination and planning in the medical field, Kristen endeavors to combine her interests of communication and medicine to improve patient care and safety while optimizing the efficiency of medical team communication.

Kristen Welsh

I love this research. It's what keeps me coming back for the past two years. The fact that I can help figure out better, safer and more efficient techniques and process in healthcare is awesome.

Additional Information

Back Row: Jennifer Cabrera, Tara Cohen

Bottom Row: Kristen Welsh, Erin Pohl, Olivia Sisk

Project Backers

  • 15Backers
  • 20%Funded
  • $613Total Donations
  • $41.07Average Donation
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