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Surgeons' Lounge: OR Etiquette
In Search of a Surgical Code of Conduct
David Bernard
Publish Date: February 4, 2015   |  Tags:   Staffing

or etiquette
In Search of a Surgical Code of Conduct

There's no handbook on proper OR behavior, so where do you turn for guidance? For starters, imagine if you were the patient. "How would you want the people working on you to treat one another? Professional, respectful, cooperative and diplomatic," says Faris Zureikat, MBA, CASC, the administrator of North Texas Surgery Center in Dallas.

If you've recognized a lack of politeness and respect among some members of your surgical team, what's the best way to enforce expectations of on-the-job behavior? "We have a code of conduct. There has to be zero tolerance for unprofessional behavior, both for the staff and surgeons," says Sally Ryder, RN, CNOR, CNML, clinical coordinator at Grand View Hospital's Harleysville (Pa.) Outpatient Center.

To clearly communicate the need for and goals of professionalism, some say it's best to build one through a consensus effort.

"Get a group together and let them define their own code of conduct, using whatever facility policy is already out there as a starting point," says Shirley Lewis, RN, surgical services manager at Tanner Medical Center Villa Rica in Georgia. "The staff have then developed their own [code], to which they can sign and pledge."

"Unfortunately, you don't have to spend too much time in an operating room to witness unprofessional behavior," says Christian Clark, RHIA, CNIM, clinical manager at St. Thomas Hospital for Spinal Surgery in Nashville, Tenn., who cites management guru Peter Drucker's adage that intelligence is no substitute for manners, as well as etiquette guru Emily Post's definition of manners as "a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

— David Bernard