Be Ready for 2018

Publish Date: January 3, 2018


Technology is the game changer this year in the perioperative setting as innovations that have only been talked about in research applications will make their way into practice more and more. Perioperative nurses must embrace these technologies and gain competencies, while also considering safeguards for patient health, forecasts Mary Fearon, MSN, RN, CNOR, AORN Perioperative Practice Specialist.

Parallel to this technological advancement is a strong focus on patient outcomes and satisfaction—“perioperative nurses must advance their knowledge in these technologies while also making use of their voice in speaking for their patients’ safety and overall positive surgical experiences,” she advises.

Technology and Innovation

Surgical practices will be highly influenced by innovative applications of new technologies in the new year, such as robotics that will continue to influence an increase in minimally invasive approaches. For example, robotics are being used and developed for more surgical specialties such as orthopedics and neurosurgery.

Fearon also says to watch for innovations with 3D biologics such as tissue printing coming to your OR. “These are exciting innovations for our patients but they also bring new challenges for establishing management and safety protocols, which each member of the perioperative team will need to collaborate on.”

Technology will also influence quality improvement as virtual reality and artificial intelligence become more commonly used in the perioperative setting. Fearon says artificial intelligence is being applied to predictive analytics. “Expect to hear more in your practice about artificial intelligence to address metrics such as evidence-based practice, quality and cost,” she advises, also noting that virtual reality has many applications in education and simulation training.

Quality and Safety

Advances in analytics will support the ongoing trend toward data-driven approaches to quality and safety as everyone is having to demonstrate quality with payers such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “Perioperative nurses at every level should feel comfortable talking about analytics as teams explore new ways to use data to create dashboards for showing and tracking improvements in patient care.”

The Joint Commission’s 2018 National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) also dovetail with these quality requirements and with new and updated AORN guidelines for safe care. For example, a 2018 NPSG on medication safety aligns with AORN’s updated medication safety guideline. “Make sure you are labeling medications correctly, matching medications with the correct patient, and be familiar with current rules related to compounding medications,” Fearon suggests.

She also shares that the Joint Commission will be coming down harder on hand hygiene protocols. “Those hospitals with hand hygiene deficiencies will be penalized and need to show a clear plan for improving their practices.”

Preventing surgical site infections and implementing practices to protect patients and staff from the hazards of surgical smoke inhalation should also be on the radar.

Collaboration and Communication

Teamwork will be the key to achieving safety and quality in highly technological ORs; therefore, a focus on effective communication and care coordination is more important than ever, Fearon stresses.

The new AORN guideline on communication in the perioperative setting provides evidence-based recommendations for achieving strong team collaboration. “It takes knowledge of the latest evidence and strengthening of the right communication skills to achieve this.”

Your 2018 Knowledge Goals

Given this outlook for the year ahead, perioperative nurses in every role will be challenged to develop and commit to widespread competence in new technologies, quality work, and team collaboration. Fearon shares this short list of key education goals for 2018:

  1. Achieve your BSN as a baseline for nursing practice—Fearon says more and more nurses are reaching this goal, and this is important, not only for their nursing practice, but also as more health care facilities are making this a requirement for hire.
  2. Ensure access to evidence—With the rapid pace of research being applied to practice recommendations, perioperative nurses must build time into their practice to keep up with the evidence behind the safest approaches to patient care.
  3. Understand how data can be applied in your practice setting—Get involved with team members looking at data and seek out trainings tailored to prepare perioperative nurses for data collection, analysis and management.
  4. Become skilled in technologies entering your OR—Keep up with new technologies and practices surgeons are bringing into practice and learn how to use, troubleshoot and maintain patient safety with these technologies.
  5. Learn the art of communication—While teamwork and communication have long been discussed in perioperative care, educational opportunities such as simulation training designed to help teams understand and develop key skills for this work are becoming more available. Talk to your team members about building these skills together.

Additional Resources

Get AORN’s 2018 Guidelines for Perioperative Practice to learn about new and updated guidelines and implementation resources to put the guidelines into practice.

Take advantage of Early Bird Pricing this month for AORN’s 2018 Global Surgical Conference & Expo this March in New Orleans to get a hands-on look at new technologies and advance your education on a wide variety of topics.

Stay tuned for a new collection of education modules AORN will be launching in 2018 tailored to technology education for perioperative nurses.

For Managers

Inform your outlook on nursing education with this new report on Nursing Education and the Decade of Change: Strategies to Meet America’s Health Needs.

Read more about artificial intelligence applications in the health care setting.