Operative traffic in orthopedics: A glimpse into surgical team transformations

Renaldo C. Blocker, Katherine L. Forsyth, Russell Branaghan, M. Susan Hallbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Operative traffic can reduce the sterility of the operating room (OR) and put patients at risk of infection. Such traffic can also change the makeup of the surgical team, yet these transformations have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to analyze operative traffic in regards to the number of people that entered the OR and characterize personnel transformations within operative teams across a surgical day and surgical procedure. Over three months, surgical cases performed by one orthopedic surgeon in an academic hospital were observed. Data were collected on the time of personnel entry and exit, and the characteristics of the case. Transition patterns were classified based on the number of transitions for each personnel role. Overall, 465 individuals (M = 23.21 individuals, SD = 7.25) entered the OR across all 19 surgical days, with 286 identified as surgical personnel (M = 15.05 personnel, SD = 3.05). Six transition patterns were found in the data. Patterns with three or more transitions per role occurred 38.9% of the time and were observed for registered nurses, certified surgical technicians, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologists. The transition patterns of these roles present increased opportunity for errors during a procedure and should be further investigated. In future studies, the authors plan to study other specialties, procedures, and accrue a larger sample to further understand how operative traffic and surgical site infections relate to one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-32
Number of pages4
JournalPerioperative Care and Operating Room Management
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Human factors
  • Operative traffic
  • Team transformations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Medical–Surgical
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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