Northland DHB theatre staff are switching to personalised theatre caps as part of a patient safety initiative.
Knowing and recognising team members by name greatly improves prevention of adverse outcomes and builds trust amongst the teams.
Staff came up with the idea after doing a team simulation exercise and reflecting on what they could do to make their work easier and safer for patients, especially in emergency situations.
While many of the staff work together often, the scale of the team and busy environment can make it challenging for remembering names.
Anaesthetist Sarah Preissler-Hunt said that the redesigned hats will make their work easier.
“It means being able to give a task to a person directly rather than calling “can someone please…”
A keen sewer, Sarah volunteered to take on the project and started by drafting the pattern. She then spent around 30 hours sewing hats for her team.
"The project turned from 'a few hats' to sewing 72 of them to provide all of the anaesthetists/intensivists and anaesthetic registrars with two hats each,” she said.
Bright, themed fabrics have been used to make the hats, including Batman, Harry Potter and kiwiana, which are the most popular so far. Local company Stitches Embroidery has helped with adding the names.
The plan is for all theatre staff – which includes healthcare assistants, nurses, anaesthetic technicians, surgeons and many others to have the new hats and so many more are needed.
A local sewing club is now using Sarah’s pattern to help with the sewing.
The simulation that triggered the hat project was part of NetworkZ, a team training programme that focuses on improving patient safety and encouraging staff to speak up in theatre. A number of NetworkZ team training courses have been run for Northland DHB theatre staff over the past year.
NetworkZ is funded by ACC, delivered by the University of Auckland, and supported by the Health Quality and Safety Commission.
Sarah Preissler Hunt: Anaesthetist Dr Sarah Preissler-Hunt who made 72 theatre caps for her team.
Team Photo - L-R: Dr Jo Coates, Dr Anthony Carrie, Dr Faustina De Veer, Dr Miles Holt, Dr Sarah Preissler-Hunt, Dr Lucy Stone, Dr Chanchal Ajodha, Dr Chris Wong, Dr Tom Riddell