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Potential errors and their prevention in operating room teamwork as experienced by Finnish, British and American nurses


Marja Silén-Lipponen, Kurukatu 4, 70620 Kuopio, Finland. Email:


This study describes how the potential sources of errors and error prevention in operating room (OR) teams are experienced by Finnish, American and British nurses. The data were collected by interviews and analysed using a qualitative content analysis. Results consisted of categories demanding teamwork practice, shared responsibility in teams and organized teamwork. The demanding practice category included fear of errors, turnover in teams, overtime work and emotional distress as potential factors leading to errors in OR teamwork. Shared responsibility emphasized how the familiar teams, safety control and formal documentation of errors prevented errors. At the organizational level, the prevention of errors required scheduling of work, good management, competency and a reasonable physical environment. In order to improve safety in OR teams, recognition should be given to the balance of error-making and learning from them. More effective ways in reporting incidents should be adopted and overall reporting systems should be developed in Finnish OR teams.