Top-Gun Training Arrives at Strong Memorial

Surgical Staff Learns How to Communicate Better

March 07, 2003

On Saturday surgical teams at Strong Memorial Hospital will get an idea of what it takes to safely land an airliner in an emergency, at a unique training session designed for pilots but adapted to improve communication among medical staffs. The goal is to use this training technique to help medical teams provide safe, high-quality care for patients.

"In health care, just as in the airline industry, we are often faced with high-stakes, life-and-death situations," says Robert Panzer, M.D., chief quality officer, Strong Health. "Good communication is the key to doing well, and we are continually looking for new ways to upgrade our skills. This is a very exciting method."

Harry C. Sax, M.D., professor of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a licensed pilot, helped design the symposium with FlightSafety International. Based in Houston, FlightSafety is a leader in aviation training and has applied its Crew Resource Management techniques to the shipping industry and refineries, and has recently expanded into medicine.

"This is medicine looking outside of our own experiences for solutions to improve patient care and encourage team-building," Sax says. "The airline industry has successfully used CRM to reduce errors and cope with fatigue and stress. We think there are many lessons to be learned from the cockpit."

Training is from 8 a.m. to noon March 8, 2003, in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Operating room teams will work to improve skills in three areas:

  • Having the confidence to speak up in a crisis, regardless of rank. For example: nurses challenging doctors.
  • Establishing standardized guidelines and checklists, such as cross-checking surgical sites and other critical patient information.
  • Routinely communicating better, such as when handing off between shifts.

For Media Inquiries:
Leslie Orr
(585) 275-5774
Email Leslie Orr