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Communication Practices on 4 Harvard Surgical Services: A Surgical Safety Collaborative

  • December 1, 2009

In Research and Publication
Supported by a CRICO grant, a prospective study at four Harvard teaching hospitals was conducted to address communication breakdowns between surgical residents and attending physicians in the pre- and postoperative setting. 


Conclusions: In the context of both critical patient events and routine patient care, residents often fail to obtain attending surgeons’ input for management decisions. These failures seem to derive more from residents’ perception of necessity than from attending physicians receptiveness or interest in being contacted. Once involved, attending physicians frequently modify resident’s management decisions. It seems, therefore, that there is significant potential for communication failure and information loss among our 4 institutions. 

Read the article abstract at:

ElBardissi AW, Regenbogen SE, Greenberg CC, Berry W, Arriaga A, Moorman D, Retik A, Warshaw AL, Zinner MJ, Gawande AA. Communication practices on 4 Harvard surgical services: a surgical safety collaborative. Ann Surg. 2009 Dec;250(6):861-5. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181afe0db.