Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

AORN Blog - The Periop Life

Got a Sharpie? You’re Ready to Take the Theater Cap Challenge

A Conversation with Sarah Hirx, MSN, RN, CNOR and Brittany Hasty, MD


Got a Sharpie? You’re Ready to Take the Theater Cap Challenge

May 9, 2018     

Working in a large academic medical center here at Stanford Health Care, we don’t always know the first name of every surgical team member. Even when we do, masks, eye protection, and caps can make them hard to recognize.

After learning about surgical team members writing their first name and title on their surgical cap for the #theatercapchallenge, saying it improved crisis response, we decided to pilot this change in our own surgical settings.

Testing the Challenge

Starting in our inter-professional in-situ simulation program, we used tape and a marker to create a nametag for each participant with their first name and role, and each person affixed it to the front of their surgical hat.

The response during this simulation was the most efficient and effective of any simulation we had ever run. In particular, we found communicating directly by first names enhanced the participant’s ability to have closed-loop communication.

We are believers.

3 Tips for Making it Stick

We all know from experience that initiating process improvements for patient safety can sometimes be hampered if they take too much time or energy to make a change. That’s why we love the Theater Cap Challenge–it’s so easy.

Here are a few tips to make it work in your ORs.

1. Just Do it

Hasty: It may feel a little awkward at first, but it takes just a moment to write your name and title on your cap and then you forget it is there.

2. Coordinate with Infection Prevention

Hirx: You want to check with your IP colleagues to make sure the way you present your name and title on your cap is in line with your surgical attire practices. At our facility, we found that embroidery on a cloth hat will still show when covered with a disposable bouffant, which adheres to our surgical attire policy.

3. Find Champions

Hirx: Our simulation team members were effective champions because we modeled and demonstrated the success of this safety change as an inter-professional group and spread the word among our colleagues.

Hasty: Securing champions from all roles is extremely helpful for spread and buy-in.