Making quality stick: Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety: The effects of disruptive behavior, mentoring, and coaching on quality improvement

Editor’s note: In July 2017, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) released Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety—a new manual that is intended to serve as a trusted resource for surgical leaders seeking to improve patient care in their institutions and make quality stick. Each month, the Bulletin highlights some of the salient points made throughout the “red book.”


Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and SafetyAs surgical care becomes more coordinated and team-based, it is increasingly important that surgeons model professional behavior. However, in their passionate pursuit of perfection, some surgeons have been known to have angry outbursts or use intimidating or disrespectful language when they are feeling particularly stressed, a case is not going as planned, they feel other team members are unable to meet their exacting standards, and so on. Studies have shown that such disruptive behavior has adverse effects on quality of care and negatively affects team performance. The red book offers recommendations on how surgeon leaders can identify and address disruptive surgeon behavior.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the disruptive surgeon are mentors and coaches. Mentors form lasting relationships with their mentees, sharing knowledge and helping mentees develop professionally. Mentors typically are based at the same institution as their mentees and have significantly more experience. Coaches are more likely to be called upon to help surgeons improve in a specific area, such as developing leadership abilities or a new technical skill. These relationships are short-term and have well-defined goals, and coaches frequently are recruited from outside the institution. Mentoring and coaching are important facets of establishing a value-based department of surgery.

Be sure to read next month’s “Making quality stick” article for an overview of key points in the red book. Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety is available for $44.95 per copy for orders of nine copies or fewer and $39.95 for orders of 10 or more copies through the ACS website.

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