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Viewpoint | Surgical Outcomes Club

Innovative Approaches for Modifying Surgical Culture

Steven Yule, PhD1,2; Greg D. Sacks, MD, MPH3,4; Melinda Maggard-Gibbons, MD, MSHS3,4
[+] Author Affiliations
1STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
3Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
4VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Surg. 2016;151(9):791-792. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.0425.
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This Viewpoint highlights various initiatives for improving nontechnical surgical culture and also several studies on the association between improved surgical culture and its effects on quality of patient care.

The practice of medicine, although rooted in biological science, is a social endeavor. It depends on the interactions between patients and clinicians within the confines of a larger health care system. To the extent that we have vocabulary to describe these dynamic interactions, 1 word in particular has emerged as a catchphrase that simultaneously conjures the broad and specific meanings of such complicated processes. That word is culture. The term local culture, for example, refers to the more narrow range of interactions within a hospital unit or clinic. Surgical culture represents the broader relations at play when providing surgical care.

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