CRM Well Beyond The Cockpit

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Crew resource management may be old news to pilots, but the concept is now making waves in other industries where communication among workers can mean the difference between safety and disaster, The (U.K.) Herald reported Monday. Techniques that pilots use to help avoid accidents are being adapted to reduce the risk of mistakes in hospital operating theaters, nuclear plants, fire departments, and prisons, where teamwork is critical. A CRM research center in Scotland has been working to adapt aviators' methods to the medical professions. "The skills are about recognizing the potential for human error, knowing your own limitations, and the effects of fatigue and stress on your performance," Dr. Nikki Maran told The Herald. "We have started team training with anaesthetists and accident and emergency physicians and surgeons all on the same course." Prof. Nigel Webster, at Aberdeen University, said, "The situation for anaesthetists in operating theaters is fairly similar to that of airline pilots in that things can go disastrously wrong very quickly and can ultimately result in the death of a person." The researchers have been working to design simulators for training health-care professionals in real-life emergency clinical situations. "In the airline world, [CRM] looks at how the various members of the flight crew work together and how to get the best from the team," Webster said. "This is what we hope to achieve with the [health-care] simulator. It provides an excellent environment in which to train junior anaesthetists, particularly in rare procedures, without risk to real patients and as such we can look at how best to improve working practices."