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New Communication Tool Developed by Ariadne Labs and the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer Aims to Improve Surgical Safety with New Operating Room Devices

OR staff review the Device Briefing Tool.

In a new patient safety effort, Ariadne Labs and the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO) collaborated on the creation, development and testing of a new tool, called the Device Briefing Tool.  This is aimed at improving the safety of surgical devices, especially during their first use in the operating room (OR). It’s the outcome of discussions between the J&J OCMO and Ariadne Labs on the potential to enhance patient safety in the OR.

The Device Briefing Tool is designed as a simple, four-step instructional guide to help OR teams accurately and efficiently review a device’s instructions prior to a procedure, promoting better communication in the OR. One component of the tool requires surgeons and nurses to verbally confirm with the entire OR team that the new device is ready to use and to address any questions about its use or setup prior to deployment. Beyond the tool itself, Ariadne Labs and J&J also collaborated on the development of a new, multidisciplinary team training curriculum. 

“Our collaboration with Ariadne Labs reflects the core values of the J&J Office of the Chief Medical Officer, an independent group within J&J focused on patient safety and evidence-based ethical decision making, with patients and consumers at the center,” says Jijo James, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices. “This strategic partnership is driven by a strong sense of scientific inquisitiveness and integrity with a focus on efficiency in the operating room and patient safety.” 

As part of the collaboration, Ariadne Labs and the J&J OCMO conducted a pilot testing of the tool at six hospitals in Thailand during a four-month period in 2018. Ariadne Labs staff developed a package of training materials for J&J employees who instructed surgeons and nurses how to use the Device Briefing Tool during the introduction of a new surgical device. 

A recent study on the Thailand project published online by the Journal of Surgical Research concluded that the Device Briefing Tool was uniformly viewed as useful and able to fit within existing workflows, offering noteworthy insights into the tool’s acceptability and feasibility. 

“Training operating room teams on how to safely and efficiently use new surgical devices is pivotal to ensuring safe patient care,” said Dr. Christine Lim, Head of International Safety & Policy at J&J Medical Devices. “Collaborating with Ariadne Labs to develop the Device Briefing Tool and training materials has enabled us to empower surgeons and nurses to build confidence and increase communication and teamwork in the OR. We’re excited to bring this tool to operating rooms around the world.” 

Following the success of the Thailand project, the J&J OCMO signed a two-and-a-half-year agreement with Ariadne Labs to test the tool in Singapore, where it will be incorporated into the country’s version of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. 

Dr. Joaquim Havens, a surgeon and Ariadne’s project lead, sees the benefits of the initiative extending beyond testing of the tool. “There will be an impact on the tool we co-created but there will be an equally important impact on what we learned from implementing it,” he says. “Our goal is to scale up what we learn with our partners in Singapore and have already learned in Thailand for future surgical safety projects in operating rooms around the world.” 

Currently, the tool is being tested at Singapore General Hospital, the country’s largest hospital and part of Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), the country’s largest group of health care institutions. Singapore has one of the highest-functioning health systems in the world and a robust culture of safety; this year, Newsweek named Singapore General Hospital the third best hospital in the world. Professor Kenneth Kwek, Singapore General Hospital’s CEO, told The Straits Times that the Hospital has a strong tradition of working to improve the outcome of patients through integrated clinical practice, innovation, cutting-edge research and new models of care.

“It was clear that a patient safety initiative was something hospital leaders in Singapore would be interested in,” says Dr. Jason Pradarelli, an Ariadne Safe Surgery fellow who returned to Singapore General Hospital in May to train and prepare staff for baseline data collection, which is set to begin this fall. “This partnership is really important for not just improving surgical safety, but improving health care quality.”